By Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack
|U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack|
Recently, both houses of Congress took action to support tens-of-thousands of American jobs by ratifying trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama, as well as passing trade adjustment assistance to help train workers for the 21st century economy. And last week, the President signed them.
These agreements are a win for the American economy. For American agriculture, their passage will mean over $2.3 billion in additional exports, supporting nearly 20,000 jobs here at home for folks who package, ship, and market agricultural products.
That’s why President Obama made these trade deals a key part of his jobs agenda. And once they are implemented, they’ll level the playing field for America's farmers, ranchers and growers. They’ll open up opportunities for our businesses and immediately secure new markets as the majority of American products exported to Korea, Colombia and Panama become duty-free.
These trade agreements help build on the success story of American agriculture – already a bright spot in the American economy – by continuing record exports that support more than a million jobs here at home.
In the past months, I’ve crisscrossed the United States talking about trade and another opportunity for Congress to create jobs for the American people —President Obama’s American Jobs Act. The bill would cut taxes for small business owners and middle-class Americans. Private forecasts suggest it would put 1.9 million people back to work next year.
Right now, Congress is looking at the bill piece-by-piece, starting with a proposal to prevent teacher layoffs, keep police officers on the beat and keep firefighters on the job. $35 billion in assistance to states would support nearly 400,000 educator jobs – keeping teachers in the classroom. And it would keep cops and fire fighters in place to protect our communities.
In the same way that they supported trade deals to create jobs and help agriculture, I know that members of Congress can step up and take action to pass the American Jobs Act.
If we’re going to get Americans working again, folks in Washington DC need to come together and find solutions that work for everyone to build our economy that makes, creates, and innovates products that the rest of the world needs and wants. In doing so, America can be an exporting nation – a key to rebuilding America’s middle class.