Great Falls –- Montana Grain Growers Association (MGGA) President Gordon Stoner will testify before two U.S. Congressional committees this week in support of pending free trade agreements. Stoner was invited by U.S. Senator Max Baucus to address the Senate Finance Committee Wednesday on the importance of the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement (FTA) to wheat and barley growers. Without the agreement, U.S. wheat producers could lose up to $100 million in sales to that country every year.
In his testimony, Stoner notes that the U.S. has historically been Colombia’s leading wheat supplier, but exports have suffered from the failure to implement the U.S.-Colombia FTA. The U.S. share of the Colombian wheat market declined from 73 percent in 2008 to 43 percent in 2010 and, for the first time in U.S.-Colombian agricultural trade history, the U.S. lost to Argentina its position as Colombia’s number one agricultural supplier. Further threatening remaining U.S. wheat market share is a trade agreement between Colombia and Canada scheduled to go into effect this summer.
On Thursday, Stoner will testify before the House Agriculture Committee on the pending trade promotion agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea. After key trade concessions on the agreement with Korea were won by Senator Baucus last week, the Obama Administration announced it is ready to begin technical discussions with Congressional leaders to pave the way for consideration of all three agreements.
Noting the importance of the hearings, Stoner said, “Agricultural producers in Montana are very dependent on exports. In the case of wheat, nearly 80 percent of our crop is exported, bringing more than a billion dollars into the state every year. We are always working to expand our markets, knowing full well that we operate in a world economy with many competitors.”
Stoner also thanked Senator Baucus for his strong leadership on trade issues, adding “Max is an effective and tireless promoter of Montana agriculture and he understands how important exports are to our industry.”
Stoner is a director of the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) serving on their Domestic and Trade Policy Committee and in July will become chairman of the NAWG /U.S. Wheat Associates Joint International Trade Policy Committee.
The Montana Grain Growers Association is the primary trade organization representing Montana wheat and barley producers who, by combining their strengths, voices, and ideas, are working to ensure a better future for themselves, their industry and the consumer.
Posted by Haylie Shipp