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Blog: Secretary's Column: US-Korea Trade Agreement Big Boost for Agriculture


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Last week was monumental for American farmers. Under the new U.S.-Korea trade agreement, two-thirds of the tariffs imposed on U.S. food and agricultural products exported to South Korea are being eliminated. That includes wheat, corn, soybeans for crushing, whey for feed use, hides and skins, cotton, cherries, pistachios, almonds, orange juice, grape juice, and wine.

Over the next few years, as additional barriers fall and more U.S. businesses market products to Korea's expanding economy, American agricultural exports should grow by $1.9 billion and help support nearly 16,000 jobs here at home.

The Korea agreement will help us build on what is already a good time for America's farmers, ranchers, and agricultural businesses. Last year, producers enjoyed their best incomes in more than 30 years and hit a record high for agricultural exports.

President Obama's leadership on trade has helped support this growth. In 2010, the President committed to double U.S. exports in five years. Two years later, we are on pace to meet that goal.

Last year, the President insisted that we get the trade agreement with Korea right -- alongside pacts with Colombia and Panama -- forging a better deal for America's workers and businesses that led to strong bipartisan support in both houses of Congress.

At USDA, we share this belief in creating an economy that makes, creates and exports to markets abroad. We have worked aggressively to reduce barriers to trade and expand export opportunities. We are reaching out to producers and agribusinesses -- especially small- and medium-sized enterprises -- with information and financing to tackle the export market. Today, farm exports help support more than 1 million American jobs.

Along with other efforts to promote American exports, today's implementation of the trade deal with South Korea helps level the playing field for American businesses so we can strengthen the economy and put folks back to work. Across the economy, it will add $10 billion to $12 billion to our gross domestic product.

In the end, increasing our exports of "Grown and Made in America' goods mean higher incomes for farmers and ranchers, more opportunities for small businesses owners, and jobs for Americans who grow, package, ship and market agricultural products. That's how we'll continue to create an economy built to last and opportunities for the middle class.

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