The United States negotiated three free trade agreements more than five years ago. The agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea had the potential to net several billion dollars of gain to U.S. agricultural exports. However, these agreements were never presented to Congress due to several issues.
“One issue was that of a trade adjustment assistance program,” said Adam Sharp, OFBF senior director of legislative and regulatory policy.
The trade adjustment assistance program is a package of programs that allows Americans who lose their job due to a trade agreement to receive assistance from the government for retraining and education to find another job.
“That did move in Congress, so the Obama administration finally submitted the FTAs to Congress, and they went through a very quick vote,” Sharp said. “These agreements languished for five years; once they went to Congress they passed in two weeks.”
Farm Bureau members played a key role by contacting members of Congress directly and asking for passage of these agreements.