Statement of NCFC President Chuck Conner on the Senate Finance Committee Hearing on Pending FTAs

Washington, D.C. (June 29, 2011)—“We welcome the Senate Finance Committee’s move this week to hold a “mock markup” of the draft implementing legislation for the pending free trade agreements (FTAs) with Colombia, Panama and South Korea and urge committee members to show their support for these agreements.

“Once the Administration formally sends the FTAs to Congress, both the House and Senate should take action and approve bills to implement them without any further delay.

“Farmer cooperatives and their member-owners have an enormous stake in seeing these agreements implemented in a timely manner. Trade is absolutely vital to the continued prosperity of co-ops and their farmer and rancher members—with over 95 percent of the world’s population living outside of the United States, our agricultural producers need foreign markets to grow demand.

“In addition, passage and implementation of the FTAs will help to level the playing field with our competitors. The longer that we delay these agreements, the greater the potential that American farmers and ranchers will lose market share to competitors. For example, Canada has signed and is implementing FTAs with both Colombia and Panama, while the European Union is in the process of implementing one with South Korea.”

About NCFC

Since 1929, NCFC has been the voice of America’s farmer cooperatives.  Our members are regional and national farmer cooperatives, which are in turn composed of nearly 3,000 local farmer cooperatives across the country.  NCFC members also include 26 state and regional councils of cooperatives.  Farmer cooperatives allow individual farmers the ability to own and lead organizations that are essential for continued competitiveness in both the domestic and international markets.

America’s farmer-owned cooperatives provide a comprehensive array of services for their members.  These diverse organizations handle, process and market virtually every type of agricultural commodity.  They also provide farmers with access to infrastructure necessary to manufacture, distribute and sell a variety of farm inputs.  Additionally, they provide credit and related financial services, including export financing.

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