Apr 15, 2011  |  Today's News

Trade is vitally important to Illinois farmers.  Because of our position on the Illinois, Ohio, and Mississippi Rivers, we are uniquely suited to take advantage of the export market opportunities offered to us.  This also makes us very interested in the passage of free trade agreements that present important new and growth markets.

You may remember that we briefly reported on the progress being made towards a Colombian Free Trade Agreement last week.  Illinois Corn Growers Association couldn’t be happier to see positive movement on this Agreement. 

In 2010, the United States exported $98 million of yellow corn to Colombia.  Under the Agreement, Colombia will provide immediate duty-free access through a 2.1 million metric ton tariff rate quota with 5 percent annual growth.  Who wants to miss this opportunity?

Trade with Korea is another important issue that sits awaiting Congressional approval.  Already the United State’s fifth largest market for U.S. agricultural exports at $3.9 billion in 2009, the Korea Free Trade Agreement would expand those opportunities and result in additional sales.  Experts predict around a 46 percent increase.

Though the Korean market doesn’t offer the immediate increase for yellow corn exports since their import duties are already low, the increase would come in the form of higher demand for processed products and meats.   This benefits corn farmers because it increases demand for corn for feed, but also benefits U.S. livestock producers through higher demand for their products.

A Korea FTA could contribute $10 - $12 billion to the U.S. GDP.

Other trading partners are just as important; a Panama Agreement could mean 20 cents per hog in additional value for the U.S. pork industry, resulting in approximately $20.6 million dollars in additional revenue.  And the U.S. would be wise to consider any and all opportunities to help our Japanese consumers recover from their devastation and loss as Japan is the largest importer of U.S. corn and pork.

Without trading opportunities and open markets, the Illinois corn farmer loses considerable value for his crop.  How can Illinois best invest in these important market opportunities?