Congress must act quickly

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For months, farmers across the country have been keeping a watchful eye as the events surrounding the passage of the pending Free Trade Agreements with Korea, Colombia and Panama unfold. Unfortunately, it seems every piece of positive news is met by two steps in the wrong direction.

The United States is the largest producer and exporter of corn in the world. Developing new markets for our country's agricultural products is vital to producer income and it also helps our sector lead the nation in economic growth and international competitiveness. USDA is forecasting the United States will reach a record-high $135.5 billion in exports this year. Agriculture's trade surplus is not something other sectors of our economy achieve. Passing FTAs will ensure our market share stays strong in existing and developing markets.

Korea, for example, is the United States' third largest corn market, importing more than 7 million metric tons of corn from the U.S. in marketing year 2009-2010. In July, the EU and Korea implemented their own free trade agreement. Within a matter of weeks, both parties saw an increase of economic activity. As a farmer, it's frustrating to watch other nations achieve preferential access to world markets and secure a competitive edge over U.S. products.

While members of Congress are at home during August recess, we urge them to act swiftly when they return to Washington in September to pass the pending FTAs and put an end to the United States missing out on market share to our largest competitors.

Blake Edwards