Acting Agriculture Secretary Chuck Conner met with several the Coalition for U.S.-Peru Trade Thursday to discuss the pending free trade agreements with Peru, Columbia, and Panama. The groups represented were the American Farm Bureau Federation, Corn Refiners Association, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Cattlemen's Beef Association, National Corn Growers Association, National Milk Producers Federation, and National Pork Producers Council.
The groups voiced their strong support for the FTAs and urged Congress to move forward on these agreements. After full implementation of the agreements, all U.S. agricultural exports would enter the market duty-free. These countries already enjoy duty-free access to the U.S. on agricultural products through the Andean Trade Preference Act and Caribbean Basin Initiative.
However; R-CALF CEO Bill Bullard and representatives of Public Citizen and Food and Water Watch voiced disapproval of the pending free trade agreements during a briefing session for House of Representatives staffers on Wednesday.
According to a recent report by the Public Citizen, the pending FTAs establish new committees to speed up implementation of mechanisms to facilitate trade rules, including 'equivalence determinations,' that require the United States to permit imports of meat and poultry products that do not meet U.S. safety standards. Once so-called equivalence is achieved, products to be imported into a country must only meet the standards of the exporting country – not those of the importing country.
"The Peru FTA will only worsen what is already a precarious situation because the goal of this agreement is to facilitate imports into the U.S., resulting in an increased food safety risk, and economic harm to U.S. cattle farmers and ranchers," Bullard said.