Mock markups to be held concerning bills for South Korea, Colombia and Panama FTAs

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The Senate Finance Committee will hold a “mock” markup of the draft implementing bills for the South Korea, Colombia and Panama Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) later this week.  The committee, chaired by Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), is planning to consider the draft implementing bills on Thursday, June 30.

Mock mark-ups provide committees of jurisdiction the opportunity to offer amendments to the Administration’s proposals. Final versions of implementing bills are submitted to Congress for an up or down vote.

The American Soybean Association (ASA) and National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) both issued statements saying they are pleased with this announcement.

The ASA says they have been working for a number of years toward passage of these trade agreements because increased exports of U.S. soy and soy-fed meat and poultry will benefit soybean farmers and rural economies. Passage of these three trade agreements combined represents nearly $3 billion of additional agriculture exports to these trading partners.

“NCGA is greatly encouraged by the movement on the pending FTAs,” NCGA President Bart Schott said.  “The United States is the largest corn producer and exporter in the world and developing new markets for our country’s agricultural products will help our sector lead the nation in economic growth and international competiveness.”

Last year, the United States exported 50.4 million metric tons of corn worldwide. Corn co-products such as distillers grains also represent a growing export market for domestic producers.

“This is a critical step in the right direction,” said ASA President Alan Kemper, a soybean farmer from Lafayette, Ind. “Now that an agreement on Trade Adjustment Assistance has been reached, we call on Congress and the Administration to quickly advance these trade agreements in order to boost our economy.”

The Finance Committee will consider the draft implementing bills during a “mock” markup because Congress cannot offer amendments to the final implementing bills submitted by the Administration under the Trade Promotion Authority Act – also known as “fast track” – procedures. Following Administration review of any amendments that the Finance and Ways and Means Committees approve on the draft implementing bills, final versions of the implementing bills will be submitted to Congress for an up-or-down vote.

These three agreements contain significant export gains for U.S. agriculture that will only be realized by passage and implementation. Conversely, inaction has proven to result in loss of U.S. market share and forfeiture of economic growth. The U.S. government’s inability to move these agreements only benefits our foreign competitors and harms U.S. agriculture.

“ASA urges that the Senate support and pass these agreements now and take full advantage of the opportunity they provide for America’s economic growth,” Kemper said.

“As a producer, it is frustrating to watch other nations achieve preferential access to markets and secure a competitive advantage over U.S. corn and corn products,” Schott said.  “NCGA strongly supports the pending FTAs with Korea, Colombia and Panama and we look forward to working with Congress to ensure swift passage.”

Sources: ASA, NCGA

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