Following is a joint statement from U.S. Wheat Associates Chair Janice Mattson, a wheat grower from Chester, Mont., and National Association of Wheat Growers President Karl Scronce, a wheat grower from Klamath Falls, Ore.:
As leaders of an industry dependent on exports for half its sales, we were thrilled to hear that President Obama plans to give trade a more prominent role in his administration’s economic recovery agenda.
In his State of the Union address, Mr. Obama said that if America sits on the sidelines while other nations sign trade deals, we would lose the chance to create jobs on our shores. We couldn’t agree more, and we believe that an ideal way to kick-start this trade initiative is to finalize the pending U.S.-Colombia free trade agreement.
Wheat growers from across the country were in Washington, D.C., this week encouraging members of Congress to support this agreement, which is the industry’s top trade priority and key to maintaining more than $90 million in wheat exports to Colombia every year. The Colombia agreement and other pending trade agreements with South Korea and Panama will quickly bring more money home to farmers and small, rural businesses. It will also enhance America’s already strong agricultural exports, estimated at nearly $97 billion in fiscal 2009.
We encourage the Administration to send these agreements to the Hill, and Congress to approve them as soon as possible. We also encourage the Senate to find solutions to the disagreements holding up key trade nominees, without which our country cannot negotiate new agreements in good faith.
We stand ready to work with the Obama Administration and in Congress to demonstrate the value of these agreements and the urgency to get the job done.