Speaking before the U.S. House Committee on Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack urged lawmakers to work with the agency to move the three pending free trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama.  "These trade agreements represent an important cornerstone of our strategy to continue to increase agricultural trade," Vilsack told legislators.

USDA announced this week that U.S. farm exports reached a record high $75 billion in the first half of FY 2011, a 27 percent increase over the same period last year.  "Our pending trade agreements will help continue that successful story," Vilsack said during his testimony.

The pending FTAs with Colombia and Panama will benefit U.S. rice producers, millers and exporters and USA Rice Federation supports passage of these agreements.  However, rice was excluded from the South Korea FTA and USA Rice does not support the agreement.