Good news for Iowa beef producers

Selling American agricultural products internationally makes an important contribution to our nation’s economy. It’s also hugely significant for the Hawkeye State.

According to information provided by the United States Department of Agriculture, agricultural exports support more than 1 million American jobs. Consequently, whenever changes make foreign sales easier they are welcome. In that regard, a new trade agreement with Peru is an especially positive development.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced in mid-March that the U.S. government has concluded an agreement with Peru’s government to remove burdensome barriers that have hampered American beef exports to that South American nation since 2003. Vilsack and U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman met in March in Lima with Peruvian officials to finalize a much-improved trade arrangement.

“Since 2009, the United States and Peru have enjoyed one of the strongest bilateral trade relationships in the Western Hemisphere, and today it became much stronger,” Vilsack said at the conclusion of those meetings. “Since 2003, USDA and USTR have worked diligently to reopen and expand markets once closed to U.S. beef. This is another win in a long line of successes that led to a near-record U.S. beef and beef product exports in 2015.”

Vilsack has been a forceful advocate of revised trade pacts worldwide. He said in announcing the Peruvian deal that his goal is quite straightforward: “To remove unfair barriers and create a more level playing for America’s farmers, ranchers, producers and rural communities.”

American beef sales in Peru were already growing before the new agreement was signed. In 2015 they exceeded $25 million. Ending the previous barriers should make that marketplace far more attractive to beef producers in the months and years ahead. That’s very good news for Iowa’s beef industry.

Froman underlined that point.

“Not many years ago, there was little American beef going to Peru, but through the U.S.-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement, and agreements like this, we are seeing increased demand for high-quality American beef,” he said.

The Times-Republican aapplauds this trade pact. Vilsack and Froman deserve thanks for the hard work that made this agreement a reality.