Farm Bill Could Draw Trade Retaliation

nppc_logoLivestock organizations and food associations are concerned that their members will face economic harm because the farm bill out of conference committee this week makes no changes to the U.S. Country of Origin Labeling law (COOL).

Canada and Mexico filed a complaint over the law with the World Trade Organization, which is expected to rule on it next month. If the WTO rules against the United States, Canada and Mexico are set to place retaliatory tariffs on dozens of U.S. products – including beef, pork, furniture and bakery goods.
National Cattlemen’s Beef Association president Scott George, National Association of Manufacturers director of international trade policy Jessica Lemos, and National Pork Producers Council president Randy Spronk held a media conference call on Tuesday to discuss their concerns. Opening comments

“The released bill is a slap in the face of every livestock producer in the country,” said George, a cattle producer from Wyoming.

“If Country of Origin labeling isn’t fixed, and the farm bill is the best vehicle to do that, pork producers like me will suffer and so will dozens of other U.S. businesses,” said Spronk of Minnesota.

Lemos added that a variety of industries will be impacted if Mexico and Canada retaliates over the labeling law. “That is simply an unacceptable outcome,” she said.

Listen to or download complete call here: NCBA-NPPC Media Call

AFBF Files Suit to Protect Farmers’ Privacy

The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) is taking legal action to stop the Environmental Protection Agency from publicly releasing personal information about thousands of farmers and ranchers and their families.

afbf-logoThe lawsuit was prompted by the expectation that EPA will be responding this week to several Freedom of Information Act requests, so AFBF is seeking a temporary restraining order before the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota.

By seeking an immediate court order stopping EPA’s imminent release, AFBF hopes to stall disclosures of farmers’ and ranchers’ names, home addresses, GPS coordinates and personal contact information until a court can clarify EPA’s obligation to keep personal information about citizens private. The National Pork Producers Council joined AFBF in the lawsuit.

“We are sticking up for the tens of thousands of farmers and ranchers whose personal information would end up in the public domain,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman. “This lawsuit is about the government’s unjustified intrusion into citizens’ private lives.”

Earlier this year the farming and ranching community was shocked that EPA released personal information about thousands of livestock and poultry farmers and ranchers in 29 states in response to FOIA requests from three environmental organizations. Now, in response to new FOIA requests, EPA intends to release additional personal information from farmers in Minnesota, California, Idaho, Nevada, Oklahoma, and Washington.

Read more from AFBF.

Pork Industry Economic Update at World Pork Expo

The economist to the pork industry Steve Meyer, with Paragon Economics, gave attendees at the 25 anniversary of the World Pork Expo in Des Moines, Iowa an economic update. wpx13-paragon-meyerDuring a question and answer session Meyer noted that the industry finally has prices back to profitable for the short run, the first time in nearly two years. However, he doesn’t believe this will last unless there is a very, very good corn crop, which he says looks doubtful at this point due to all the rain.

Meyer said with a good corn crop, somewhere in the 140 bushels per acre range, he thinks the industry could see prices in the low $80s next spring. If this is the case, then the industry is set up for a profitable 2014.

During the session, Meyer addressed the possible effects of exchange rates and feedstock costs to operations as well as the impact of last summer’s drought. But he noted that producers are still doing fairly well due to better risk management techniques over the past three-four years.

Listen to Steve Meyer’s remarks here: Pork Industry Economic Update

Visit the 2013 World Pork Expo photo album.

NPPC Science & Technology Updates at WPX

This morning, Bill Luckey, pork producer from Columbus, Nebraska and National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) director gave an update during the second day of 2013 World Pork Expo on science and technology updates including antibiotics and animal welfare.

wpx13-nppc-luckeyIn terms of antibiotics, Luckey said NPPC has been actively involved in the Animal Drug User Act. It has moved all the way through Congress and has passed both the House and the Senate with no amendments. The Act provides funding for the timely review of the new animal drug applications for the veterinary products.

On the regulatory front Luckey said there are some issues going on with antibiotic availability and veterinary oversight. The industry is waiting for the FDA to finalize the guidance for 2013, which requests that animal health manufacturers voluntarily give up their growth hormone promotion labels for antibiotics for classes that are also used for human medicine.

Listen to Bill Luckey’s remarks here: NPPC Science & Technology Update

Visit the 2013 World Pork Expo photo album.

EPA Private Data Release Peeves Pork Producers

The Environmental Protection Agency is now being accused of giving preference to liberal groups over conservatives when it comes to freedom of information act requests, specifically groups like the Sierra Club which received the personal information of thousands of livestock producers earlier this year. That EPA information release was a topic of discussion at World Pork Expo this week and National Pork Producers Council environmental counsel Michael Formica says they are still unhappy with the way the agency handled that situation.

wpx13-nppc-formica“We’re very upset, we remain very upset,” he said in an interview. “Unfortunately, the data is already out there, it’s been released.”

That data includes all kinds of personal information on thousands of producers in 37 states, including names, addresses, phone numbers, family members, property transfers and much more. While the organizations supposedly have “returned” the data sets to EPA, it is very likely that the groups who received it still have it and it could get into the hands of even more radical animal rights organizations like HSUS and the Animal Liberation Front.

Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa proposed an amendment to the senate farm bill to prohibit EPA from releasing personal data – and Formica says that was one of a handful of amendments brought up Tuesday when work on the farm bill ground fell apart. Even as the Senate voted today to end debate on the farm bill, clearing way for passage next week, Senate Ag Committee chair Debbie Stabenow says more amendment votes are possible post-cloture.

Listen to Formica’s comments here: Interview with NPPC environmental counsel Michael Formica

Visit the 2013 World Pork Expo photo album.

NPPC President Opens World Pork Expo

wpx13-spronkNational Pork Producers Council president Randy Spronk of Minnesota welcomed the media to the 25th anniversary of World Pork Expo on Wednesday morning in Des Moines with an update on what is new at the show.

“We expect to have around 25,000 attend the expo over the next three days,” Spronk said. “One of the neatest things is we have nearly 900 entrants with 2500 hogs in the World Pork Expo Junior National hog show. Three years ago, we just had 300.”

Spronk also commented on some of the trade, environmental and legislative issues impacting hog farmers, including the farm bill and the latest on the EPA.

Spronk’s comments here: Opening comments from NPPC president Randy Spronk

Visit the 2013 World Pork Expo photo album.

World Pork Expo Turns 25

This week we celebrate the silver anniversary of World Pork Expo, the world’s largest pork-specific trade show, presented by the National Pork Producers Council.

Nearly 20,000 pork producers and industry representatives from 39 countries will be in Des Moines this week for the 2013 World Pork Expo. “If you’re looking for products, technology or information, World Pork Expo is the best place to spend your time,” says Randy Spronk, NPPC president and pork producer from Edgerton, Minn.

wpx-13Celebrating its 25th anniversary, World Pork Expo will feature 310,000 square feet of exhibits, which is an increase from 2012. New this year is the addition of the Agriculture Building to the exhibit space, which will feature the International Visitors Center and the America’s Best Genetics display, as well as a display of World Pork Expo memorabilia from the past 25 years.

“Attendees should stop by the Agriculture Building and vote for their favorite display,” says Alicia Irlbeck, World Pork Expo general manager. “To celebrate World Pork Expo’s 25th anniversary, NPPC is giving away a trip for two to a location of the winner’s choice for up to a $3,000 value. All Expo attendees are eligible and can sign up in booth 2708.”

As always, Expo features lots of educational seminars and the Junior National show. “We have a wide variety of seminars lined up, from nutrition and feed to manure management and food safety,” Irlbeck says. The World Pork Expo Junior National has set another record this year, with 856 junior exhibitors from throughout nation entering more than 2,500 pigs. The 2012 show set a record when youths showed 2,177 hogs — a 25 percent increase from the previous year. The Junior National shows and judging competitions take place each day of Expo. The open show, with almost 1,000 hogs entered by 493 exhibitors, will be held on Friday, June 7, with a sale on Saturday, June 8.

I am getting ready to head up to Des Moines tomorrow to join our local correspondent Joanna Schroeder in covering the expo. This is the sixth year we have been able to bring WPX to you via AgWired, thanks once again to the generous sponsorship of Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica and NOVUS International. Both of these great companies will have tents set up on the main drag of the Iowa Fairgrounds and will have lots to offer expo attendees. Stop by and say hi!

World Pork Expo Names New General Manager

Irlbeck, AliciaThe National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) recently named Alicia Irlbeck as the new general manager of World Pork Expo. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the world’s largest pork-specific trade show and will be held June 5-7, in Des Moines, Iowa.

Irlbeck will oversee the strategic planning and management of all programs, exhibits and activities. She has been part of the World Pork Expo since joining the NPPC team in 2005 and will continue to serve as NPPC”s director of projects and events. Before that, she worked for the Des Moines Marriott Downtown and earned a bachelor’s degree in hotel, restaurant and institution management from Iowa State University.

“My biggest priority is making sure every last detail is addressed and communicated to make World Pork Expo the best it can be for the nearly 20,000 producers and industry enthusiasts who attend each year,” Irlbeck says. “Expo is a huge team effort, and it’s my pleasure to work with the amazing group of dedicated people who are the backbone of the show.”

For more information about World Pork Expo visit or check them out on Facebook. Follow #NPPCWPX on Twitter to stay up-to-date with event happenings. But maybe the best way to stay connected is downloading the official app, available in the Apple Store, Android Market and Blackberry’s App World.

A Personal Story of Lessons Learned

aaa-13-158-editedThe past can’t be changed, but we can learn from it. That’s what economist, public speaker, farm girl, wife and mom, Janet Hufnagel Thompson, stressed with her message to attendees at the Animal Agriculture Alliance Stakeholders Summit. The event focused on how we can protect our animals, our farms, the food we eat and the confidence of consumers.

Janet shared her families fight against environmental groups to save their family farm. Unfortunately, her story doesn’t have a happy ending, but her hope is to educate others by sharing the lessons they learned the hard way. Talking publicly is something she thinks would have changed the outcome of their situation. She stated that if at least have of the people who supported them privately, spoke out publicly then they could have saved the business. But the take home message she wants all to remember is the sanctity of private property.

“The most important thing is the sanctity of private property. Private property owners need to decide what happens on their property and with their business. I think this idea that we need to regulate more to keep the bad actors from being bad doesn’t stop the bad actors. It make it hard for good people to do business. So I think we have to go back to the fundamentals that this country was founded upon, the protection of life, liberty and property. And until we do that, until we go back to treasuring private property and what it truly means, I think we are going to continue to see an erosion and deterioration of circumstances for producers and thats producers of all kinds, not just farmers and ranchers.”

Listen to or download my interview with Janet here: Interview with Janet Thompson

Listen to or download audio from Janet’s complete presentation here: Janet Thompson - Presentation

Check out photos from the event: 2013 Animal Ag Alliance Stakeholders Summit Photo Album

Coverage of the Animal Agriculture Alliance Stakeholders Summit is sponsored by National Pork Producers Council and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association

The Glass Walls Project

aaa-13-044_edited-2Speaker after speaker during the Animal Agriculture Alliance Stakeholders Summit reminded us that transparency is no longer an option for the livestock industry. To prove that the agriculture community has nothing to hide, groups have opened their doors to share how your food is made.

Senior Vice President for Public Affairs & Professional Development at the American Meat Institute, Janet Riley, was one of those speakers who shared how her organization is bridging the divide between producer and consumer. I got the opportunity to talk with her and she gave more insight into AMI’s Glass Wall Project.

“For far too long the animal rights activists have said if slaughter houses had glass walls everyone would be a vegetarian and I didn’t believe it. Then Cargill really gets a lot of credit for the inspiration when they allowed the Oprah show into their plant. It went so well. It was just a very honest dialogue, they didn’t shy away from anything. So I started talking to Temple Grandin and I said will you be willing to host some videos and just explain in your own works how we slaughter livestock. She was delighted to show people what we do and how she has influenced what we do. She picked two plants that were representative of the beef and pork industries. Both agreed to open their doors to us. Then we decided that we would produce these videos in Temple’s own words. We wanted authentic transparency and so we just allowed Temple to explain in the best way she could how we process livestock into meat at each step of the way. It was a really interesting experience. Every now and then I would say consumers might not understand why we do this, could you explain it? And then she would.”

The beef and pork processing plant videos can be viewed at, along with more information on meat processing. AMI is looking into producing a turkey processing video next. These videos are a great educational tool and open doors for progressive dialogue.

Listen to or download my interview with Janet here: Interview with Janet Riley

Listen to or download audio from Janet’s complete presentation here: Janet Riley - American Meat Institute

Check out photos from the event: 2013 Animal Ag Alliance Stakeholders Summit Photo Album

Coverage of the Animal Agriculture Alliance Stakeholders Summit is sponsored by National Pork Producers Council and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association

Communicating Throughout the Food Chain

aaa-13-095_edited-2The Animal Agriculture Alliance Stakeholders Summit brought together people from across the agriculture community to discuss issues our industry is facing. Communicating with our consumers seems to be one of the most important things we need to focus on.

Dallas Hockman, Vice President of Industry Relations for the National Pork Producers Council, spoke to attendees about the value of communications throughout the food chain. He shared how the NPPC is reaching influencers and the value of choice. Choice not only for the consumer, but for the producer as well. Another thing he stressed was the importance of creating door-opening content.

“It’s not surprise to your listeners out there, especially pork producers, that our industry is under significant challenges. Being attacked and stereotyped as a factory farm, that we don’t really care, we over use of antibiotics, or whatever it may be. So, we have embarked on an effort to reach out to our retail and food service channel partners. Talking to them about the great job the industry is doing. We have gone through a complete analysis of the risks that our industry is facing as it relates to upcoming issues, whether that be on pain management, use of antibiotics or whatever they may be & having these meetings with our customers and talking to them about all the resources we have available. More importantly providing them a good resource in the event they have questions on these issues in the future.”

Listen to or download my interview with Dallas here: Interview with Dallas Hockman

Listen to or download audio of Dallas’ complete presentation here: NPPC - Dallas Hockman

Check out photos from the event: 2013 Animal Ag Alliance Stakeholders Summit Photo Album

Coverage of the Animal Agriculture Alliance Stakeholders Summit is sponsored by National Pork Producers Council and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association

Recap From Animal Ag Alliance Stakeholders Summit

aaa-13-003_edited-2The 12th Annual Animal Agriculture Alliance Stakeholders Summit is a wrap. Each year staff and board members try to bring topics that are hot to the table for experts to share their insights into what the agriculture industry is facing. This year the theme was focused on animal activists and ways we can protect our animals, farms and food but not forget the importance of consumer confidence.

I caught Kay Johnson-Smith, President & CEO for the Animal Agriculture Alliance just after the last guest speaker finished up. She was glad to have another successful event in the books and excited to see how the information given to attendees will be put into action in the future.

Listen to or download my interview with Kay here: Interview with Kay Johnson-Smith

The Alliance also recently elected elected Paul Pressley, U.S. Poultry & Egg Association, chairman of its board of directors. USPOULTRY has been an active member of the Alliance for 24 years, and Pressley will serve a two-year term as chairman. The Alliance’s board of directors consists of representatives from all major sectors of animal agriculture.

“I look forward to working with Kay and the Alliance staff. The Alliance has been a strong voice for all of animal agriculture for over 25 years. Now, more than ever, the ability to unite the industry across species lines is critical to responding to animal welfare issues,” remarked Pressley.

Check out photos from the event: 2013 Animal Ag Alliance Stakeholders Summit Photo Album

Coverage of the Animal Agriculture Alliance Stakeholders Summit is sponsored by National Pork Producers Council and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association

Animal Ag Alliance Stakeholders Summit Kicks Off

aaa-13-062-editedThis morning kicked off the 12th Animal Agriculture Alliance Stakeholders Summit here in Washington, D.C. or more specifically Arlington, Virginia. This year’s topic of discussion was on “Activist at the Door: Protecting Animals, Farms, Food & Consumer Confidence.” The Animal Ag Alliance is focused on connecting, educating & protecting and that is exactly what this conference is all about.

Today we have heard from all aspects of the agriculture community as well as a few outsiders who gave us a perspective we needed to hear. Tomorrow’s panel will continue with the same dialogue focused on animal welfare within the agriculture industry.

If you were unable to attend the event you can follow the #AAA13 on Twitter or view the live coverage here, provided by Alltech.

Soon I will have audio interviews uploaded and ready to listen to, but until then here are some photos from the event. 2013 Animal Ag Alliance Stakeholders Summit Photo Album

Coverage of the Animal Agriculture Alliance Stakeholders Summit is sponsored by National Pork Producers Council and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association

Economic Outlook for Pork Industry

Pork producers were well represented at the recent National Association of Farm Broadcasting’s Trade Talk. I sat down with National Pork Producers Council economist, Steve Meyer. Steve shared his thoughts on the 2012 growing season, as well as his outlook for our next fiscal year.

“It’s been a tough year because of the cost of production. The drought drove corn prices to records and soybean meal prices to records. Producers have suffered through that, but many had some coverage on feed costs through the end of the 2011-2012 crop year in August. But there wasn’t a lot of coverage for the fall.”

“We had a lot of hogs come to market in August and September primarily because producers were trying to ship the hogs a little early to reduce weights. So, we had a surge of pigs that drove, what I think the prices to the seasonal low. I think we will kind of move sideways, still seeing some pretty substancial loss for cash markets this fall. The outlook for next year is a little better, but still not very good with only profits during the summer months. A real critical thing for producers right now is that we get rain next year.”

Steve also commented on what impact pork producers across the county would see if the farm bill wasn’t reinstated come January.

Listen to my complete interview with Steve here: Steve Meyer - NPPC

2012 NAFB Convention Photo Album

NPPC Talks Trade Agreement With EU

Trade and pork exports were among the topics addressed by the National Pork Producers Council during Trade Talk at National Association of Farm Broadcasting convention. Nick Giordano, Vice President and International Trade Counsel for NPPC, sat down with me to discuss NPPC’s role in protecting US pork producer’s interests both inside the US and abroad.

“National Pork Producers Council is often at the tip of the spear on trade issues because trade is so important to pork producers. We’ve been working closely with other agricultural groups for example, potential trade talks that might get started with European Union. We want to make sure as a threshold issue that pork and other food in ag products are included within the scope of the discussions.”

A coalition of U.S. food and agricultural organizations, led by the NPPC, sent a signed letter yesterday to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, stating it is important that any FTA with the EU be comprehensive and address impediments to trade in agricultural products.

“Carried out properly,” wrote the coalition to U.S. Trade Ambassador Ron Kirk, “a U.S.-EU FTA would generate economic growth and create many thousands of new jobs on both sides of the Atlantic.”

The EU’s past FTAs have excluded agricultural goods it produces, and its regulatory measures often conflict with World Trade Organization rules, including regulations on “genetically modified” crop approval and labels, which restrict U.S. corn, soy and refined corn product exports, and on production methods in poultry, beef and pork.

Listen to my complete interview with Nick here: Nick Giordano - NPPC

2012 NAFB Convention Photo Album

Pork Export Market Opportunities

“Trade Policy for a Dynamic Pork Industry” was the topic for one of the first presentations at the Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica Swine Health Seminar. Our presenter was Laurie Hueneke, National Pork Producers Council.

During her presentation Laurie provided an overview of what the trade situation is for the industry in various regions and countries around the world. I spoke with her afterward. She says the growth opportunities for the industry include the ability to continue to export and access markets by reducing barriers. This includes China which has a lot of potential. Japan and Mexico continue to be good markets for us.

You can listen to my interview with Laurie here: Interview with Laurie Hueneke

I finally got all my photos uploaded. Please feel free to view and share: 2012 BIVI Swine Health Seminar Photo Album

Livestock and Poultry Groups Seek RFS Waiver

Livestock and poultry producers are filing a petition with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) seeking a waiver from the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) in light of the current drought situation likely to cause feed shortages.

“We need a waiver now,” said Randy Spronk of Minnesota, National Pork Producers Council president-elect.

“I and NCBA support American ethanol,” said National Cattlemen’s Beef Association president J.D. Alexander of Nebraska. “I’m not asking for a handout. I’m asking for the federal government to let the market work.”

John Burkel, Minnesota turkey grower and National Turkey Federation vice chairman, says he has already cancelled his last flock of turkeys for this year. “The ethanol waiver is a must and I hope the administration acts now,” he said.

“Relief from the Renewable Fuel Standard is extremely urgent,” said Past National Chicken Council chairman Michael Welch, President & CEO of Harrison Poultry in Bethlehem, Georgia.

Listen to opening comments at a press conference this morning from the four organization leaders here: Livestock and Poultry groups

Record-Setting World Pork Expo

The 2012 World Pork Expo was another one for the record books.

The Expo set records for the number of pigs in the Junior National show and the quantity of meals served at the Big Grill, and featured the creation of the world’s largest pork burger during its well-attended MusicFest.

The WPX Junior National broke another record for the number of pigs exhibited in the pedigreed barrow and gilt shows hosted by the National Junior Swine Association and Team Purebred. More than 700 junior exhibitors from 26 states competed with 2,177 head, a 25 percent increase from 2011.

The Expo set another record by grilling the world’s largest pork burger, made with 260 pounds of pork and a 40-pound bun. Sponsors Hog Slat, Newton Grove, N.C., and the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) donated half of the pork burger to be served as pork sandwiches in Des Moines-area homeless shelters; the rest was enjoyed by Expo-goers during MusicFest.

“I appreciated the record-breaking pork burger, which was made possible by a company from my home state of North Carolina and used to help reduce hunger in central Iowa” said NPPC president R.C. Hunt of Wilson, N.C. “I also was impressed with the time both Iowa Governor Terry Branstad and Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds spent with producers at Expo. It is very special to have this type of support for the work we do as pork producers.”

The expo attracted nearly 20,000 pork producers and industry leaders from 38 countries to Des Moines, Iowa, for the world’s largest pork-specific trade show with more than 400 exhibitors. We appreciate the sponsorship of Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica for making our coverage of the 2012 World Pork Expo possible.

2012 World Pork Expo Photo Album

Pork Industry Concerned about Egg Bill

Pork producers are concerned that a bill regulating egg production could make it into the farm bill, which could impact more than just the poultry industry.

“Some people have asked us why is the pork industry concerned about an egg bill,” said National Pork Producers Council director Bill Luckey of Nebraska during a press conference at World Pork Expo last week about the legislation they refer to as the “Farm Takeover” bill. “When you set a precedent of regulating a production system, if it’s in the poultry industry, a lot of activists might just try to move that into another species.”

Listen to comments from Bill here: NPPC director Bill Luckey

The egg bill, which was stand-alone legislation introduced in the House earlier this year, has indeed been proposed as an amendment to the Senate farm bill. Essentially it would provide for “a uniform national standard for the housing and treatment of egg-laying hens, and for other purposes.” NPPC VP of Domestic Policy Issues Audrey Adamson went into some greater detail of why other sectors of animal agriculture are concerned about the bill, which was developed as an agreement between the United Egg Producers and HSUS.

“If the egg industry decides they want to set standards, God bless them,” said Audrey. “We think it’s wrong-headed to do it in federal legislation, we think farmers know best.” She noted that similar legislation in Europe has resulted in less egg production and exorbitant prices for those on the shelves.

Listen to comments from Audrey here: NPPC's Audrey Adamson

2012 World Pork Expo Photo Album

Agriculture Groups Praise Passage of Trade Pacts

Agricultural interests have been trying for nearly five years to get Washington to act on three free trade agreements and finally in just over a week they have been sent to Congress and passed by significant majorities.

The trade agreements with South Korea, Panama and Columbia were each voted on separately and passed in rapid succession Wednesday, first by the House and then by the Senate. The votes in the House were 278-151 for South Korea, 300-129 for Panama and 262-167 for Colombia. In the Senate, it was 83-15 for South Korea, 77-22 for Panama and 66-33 for Colombia. The president is expected to sign them.

Farm groups were quick to praise the long-awaited action that is expected to mean increased exports for a variety of agricultural commodities.

“The three free trade agreements with Korea, Colombia and Panama provide great opportunities for America’s farmers,” said National Corn Growers Association President Garry Niemeyer of Illinois, adding that U.S. farmers have been standing by watching other nations receive increased access to these markets as the FTAs waited in limbo.

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association
(NCBA) President Bill Donald of Montana was pleased to see Congress put differences aside to pass the trade deals. “For too long, the trade agreements have been collecting dust,” he said, noting that cattlemen have a lot to gain when the agreements are fully implemented by reducing and eliminating import tariffs on U.S. beef imposed by Colombia (80 percent), Panama (30 percent) and South Korea (40 percent).

Pork producers also have much to gain under the agreements, according to National Pork Producers Council president Doug Wolf of Wisconsin who called passage of the FTAs “one of the greatest victories ever for the U.S. pork industry” since it is expected to add more than $11 to the price producers receive for each hog marketed.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says passage of the agreements means over $2.3 billion in additional exports for American agriculture as a whole. “Immediately upon implementation of these agreements, the majority of American products exported to Korea, Colombia and Panama will become duty-free,” said Vilsack. “With record agricultural exports supporting more than a million jobs here at home, passage of these deals will contribute to a positive U.S. trade balance, create jobs, and provide new income opportunities for our nation’s agricultural producers, small businesses, and rural communities.”

The only question is, what took so long?