National Corn Growers Association CEO Rick Tolman on Thursday testified before the House Agriculture Committee during a hearing to review pending free trade agreements with Korea, Colombia and Panama. The hearing focused on the impact and advantages these agreements would have for the agriculture industry.
“Increased production and a consistent product make the United States a reliable supplier of corn in the world market,” Tolman said. “Beyond increasing domestic and international demand for corn, passing these FTAs also benefits our customers in the livestock and poultry industries. Developing new markets for our country’s agricultural products will help our sector lead the nation in economic growth and international competitiveness.”
The hearing’s first panel consisted of U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk. The second panel comprised representatives of the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Pork Producers Council, the National Wheat Growers Association, the National Farmers Union and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, in addition to Tolman. Tolman’s testimony expressed support for all three pending FTAs and the benefits they would have for corn producers. The United States is the largest corn producer and exporter in the world, and exports of corn and corn co-products are essential to producer income. During the 2009-10 marketing year, the United States exported 50.4 million metric tons of corn worldwide. Corn co-products such as distillers dried grains represent a growing export market for domestic producers.
“Our members want to maintain current export markets and significantly increase demand for corn through opportunities in value-added corn products,” Tolman said. “We look forward to working with Congress to ensure swift passage of these important FTAs.”