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Colorado Farmers Await Free Trade Vote

KUNC file photo
Colorado farmers have looked to expand their export markets in recent years.

Many Colorado farmers are eager for Congress to ratify three long-pending free trade deals.  The US House and Senate are expected to pass the pacts with South Korea, Panama and Columbia as early as Wednesday.Colorado’s booming agricultural export market has been one bright spot in the state’s sluggish economy, and many farmers have long eyed the lifting of tariffs between the US and countries like South Korea. 

Ivan Steinke, president of the Colorado Pork Producers Council, says the free trade deals will lead to increased demand and higher prices for Colorado hog farmers.

"It allows us to compete on the world marketplace without other restrictions and barriers in the marketplace," said Steinke.

He said the deals will help Colorado pork products to stand on their own.

The South Korean ambassador echoed as much in a much-heralded visit to Colorado hosted by US Senator Mark Udall earlier this year. 

South Korea’s pending free-trade deal has been on the table since 2007.  The Obama Administration had been lobbying Congress to first restore funding for job training programs for American workers who might get displaced if jobs move overseas as a result of the deals.

Kirk Siegler reports for NPR, based out of NPR West in California.
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