Last Friday, NC State University and the North Carolina Farm Bureau hosted a commodity leaders event in Raleigh. Among those in attendance was the current ranking member of the Senate Ag Committee, Saxby Chambliss of Georgia. Previously, we heard from Senator Chambliss on Immigration Reform, today, he shares his thoughts on the pending Free Trade Agreements:
This part of the country depends heavily on exports, especially soybean, tobacco and hogs. Do you see any of the three FTAs currently on the table making it to the top of the pile?
“Well, I certainly hope so, the future of American agriculture depends on our ability to export our products, there’s only so many Americans that are there to be fed. And whether it’s poultry, or whether it’s soybeans, or whether it’s cotton, it’s imperative that we have trade agreements in place with our trading partners around the world. And right now, we’ve got South Korea, we’ve got Columbia and we’ve got panama on the table, particularly the South Korea agreement is of great importance to agriculture. We stand to benefit in a huge way with this South Korea agreement, and for the environmentalist and the labor unions to block those trade agreements from coming to the floor of the senate is just outrageous. I hope that the administration moves in a very positive way over the next couple of months to get those agreements up for debate, I think they’ll pass overwhelmingly and American agriculture will be a huge beneficiary with all three of those FTAs.”
What’s between them and a vote right now?
“Well, all the administration has to do is call them up. If the administration tells the majority leader in the senate to bring those trade agreements up, we’ll be debating them and voting on them next week.”
What do you think is stopping him?
“Well, it’s no question that there’s environmental issues, and there’s labor issues that surfaced after those agreements were negotiated and signed by the president and that’s not the time to raise those issues. If there were going to be issues of that nature they should have been raised before then. I think it’s not fair to the citizens of this country for those after-the-fact issues to come up, and that’s why I’m very hopeful that this administration will sit back and say “okay, next time around we’re going to raise these kinds of issues early on.” They’re not issues that will affect the health or safety or welfare of any American and that’s why it’s just imperative to me that we get beyond that and boost the economy of this country.
“And you talk about a job incentivizer, these FTAs will certainly create jobs by the thousands and thousands in this country, so, it’s just very important that we move in the direction of getting them passed.”
Senate Ag Committee Minority Leader Saxby Chambliss of Georgia.