Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Vilsack: South Korea free-trade pact would benefit Missouri farmers

ST. LOUIS, MO (ST. LOUIS PUBLIC RADIO) - Missouri farmers stand to benefit under a free-trade pact currently before Congress.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack was in St. Louis on Monday to urge Congress to pass the South Korean Free Trade Agreement.

He says Missouri exports large amounts of pork and soybeans. There products that have a ready market in South Korea.

“So it makes sense for us to be here in St. Louis because a good deal of those crops basically find their way to St. Louis and past St. Louis on the great Mississippi,” Vilsack said.

Vilsack is urging Congress to adopt the agreement before July. If that happens he says South Korea will eliminate 60 percent of its tariffs currently levied against U.S. imports.

“The average tariff currently assessed in agricultural products today is about 53 percent. So you can tell that when 60 percent of those tariffs are reduced immediately American products become far more competitive on the open market,” Vilsack said.

He also noted that Missouri has the most farms of any state in the country with 108,000.

Vilsack attended a ribbon cutting for the new operations center for National Agricultural Statistics Service located in Overland.

Adam Allington, St. Louis Public Radio


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