Four years of trade benefits for U.S. farmers, ranchers and food processors have been forfeited by our inaction on these agreements, and competitor countries have taken advantage of this lapse to grab U.S. market shares.

What once were fears about inaction are now sad realities. 

Australia is aggressively working to beat us to the finish line and sign a FTA with Korea, ensuring that exports of Australian meat products and other agricultural goods will have immediate market-access advantage over U.S. products in the Korean market.


It’s not just Australia that’s out-trading us. The European Union’s FTA with Korea was implemented July 1, 2011, and the U.S. could be completely shut out of this pork market in 10 years if we don’t act soon. 

Colombia is on the verge of implementing FTAs with Canada (set to go into effect August 15) and the European Union. Other major agricultural exporting countries, such as Argentina and Brazil, already have preferential access to that market.

Perhaps the biggest consequence of our government’s inaction on these FTAs is that Korea is waiting to act until our Congress approves the agreement first. In the meantime, opposition leaders in the Korean government are using the time to seek changes to the terms of the original pact, including retention of a 42 percent tariff on American beef for 10 years from ratification. 

Rep. Kevin BradyKevin Patrick BradyLawmakers under pressure to pass benefits fix for military families How centrist Dems learned to stop worrying and love impeachment On The Money: Senate passes first spending package as shutdown looms | Treasury moves to roll back Obama rules on offshore tax deals | Trade deal talks manage to weather Trump impeachment storm MORE, chairman of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade, noted that for these three FTAs, “The stakes are very high and the time is now.”

Results of an impact study coordinated by the American Meat Institute highlight the high opportunity costs and job creation potential at home resulting from full implementation of these FTAs. 

Our study found that passage and full implementation of the Korean, Colombian and Panamanian FTAs would represent an additional $2.3 billion in exports and the creation of 29,524 new jobs here at home. Many of these jobs are in rural areas of the U.S. where prospects of true economic development are seldom presented. The data also reveal that passage of the agreements could increase U.S. exports of beef by $1.4 billion, pork by $772 million and poultry by $102 million.

But the future for these trade deals, and their potential for job and economic growth, only diminishes as we move closer to the fall and into an election year, strife with political considerations. 

As Congressman Brady said, the time to act is now. Otherwise, U.S. farmers, ranchers and food processors will be reading about further delays of these FTAs on their fifth or sixth generation iPhones.