The Hagstrom Report

Agriculture News As It Happens

Vilsack, Lucas agree, disagree on trade

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said today that the Obama administration will send Congress the Korea-U.S. free trade agreement shortly and urged quick approval, but House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, D-Okla., said the White House should send the free trade agreements with Panama and Colombia at the same time.

In a speech to the Commodity Classic, a meeting of corn, soybean, wheat and sorghum growers, Vilsack said the White House should sent the agreement to Capitol Hill in the next few weeks and that Congress should approve it by July 1.

But in his speech, Lucas said that Congress could pass those agreements “in one swoop,” opening $3 billion in markets.

“They are all countries that pay cash,” Lucas said. Without swift action, he said, competitors will take the markets.

At a news conference, Vilsack said that the Panama and Colombia agreements are not finished. Congress should approve the agreement with Korea separately, Vilsack said, as this would make it easier for the administration to ask Japan and China to ease beef exports to those countries.

The Obama administration will be “very aggressive” in seeking congressional approval of the Korea agreement, Vilsack said.