Trade deals would benefit pork industry and Iowa economy

US - When it comes to US trade policy, it has seemed more difficult in recent years to gain bipartisan agreement among American policymakers than to negotiate with foreign governments.
calendar icon 12 June 2007
clock icon 3 minute read

That was certainly the case earlier this year as four free trade agreements negotiated by the Bush administration - with Colombia, Panama, Peru and South Korea - sat stalled in Congress over concerns about the lack of adequate labor and environmental standards in the pacts.

After weeks of negotiations between congressional leaders and the administration's trade-policy team, the stalemate was recently broken when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and US Trade Representative Susan Schwab announced an agreement on new labour and environment provisions for these and future agreements.

It is critical that this bipartisan consensus at the leadership level carry through to the rest of the Congress, so that the economic benefits of increased two-way trade can begin to flow. Iowa pork producers hope both political parties will unite behind their leaders and quickly approve the pending free trade agreements because these pacts will provide a much-needed boost to U.S. pork exports.

Just how important are pork exports to Iowa's economy? Nearly 8,100 jobs and $283 million of personal income are generated for the state from exports of Iowa-grown pork, according to Iowa State University economists Daniel Otto and John Lawrence. More pork trade, resulting from these pending agreements, would mean more jobs and more income.

Overall, the pork industry provides tremendous benefits to Iowa. Otto and Lawrence estimate that the state had $4.3 billion of gross receipts from hog sales in 2005. This helped support 62,500 pork-related jobs in the state, ranging from input suppliers and producers to processors and handlers, as well as Main Street businesses.


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