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PFA PRESIDENT EMPHASIZES IMPORTANCE OF EXPORT MARKETS AT HEARING

 PFA PRESIDENT EMPHASIZES IMPORTANCE OF EXPORT MARKETS AT HEARING
 CAMP HILL, Pa., Jan. 27 /PRNewswire/ -- The head of a statewide Pennsylvania farm organization said today that the elimination of world trade barriers is critical to the future prosperity of American agriculture.
 Keith Eckel, president of the Pennsylvania Farmers' Association (PFA), made the comments during a hearing in Harrisburg, Pa., conducted by U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.).
 Eckel said a successful completion of world trade talks to reform the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) is needed to establish a "level playing field" for world farm trade.
 Emphasizing the importance of export markets, Eckel said, "Agricultural exports provide producers with an expanded market and therefore a higher income." Exports normally account for one-third of U.S. crop production. In Pennsylvania, agricultural exports increased 9 percent to $295 million in fiscal 1990.
 "American farmers are willing to compete with farmers of any nation provided that they are not disadvantaged by unfair government intervention," Eckel said. He identified major trade barriers erected by foreign nations as: restrictions to market access, internal subsidies that distort trade, unfair export subsidies and unjustified sanitary measures.
 Singling out the trade practices of the European Community (EC) for dairy products, Eckel said, "The EC has switched from being a net importer of dairy products to a net exporter. Today, between 40 and 60 percent of all dairy products in world trade come from the EC, with subsidies typically well over 100 percent of the international market price. The European Community has in effect robbed Pennsylvania dairy farmers of the ability to market dairy products abroad."
 Trade reform efforts are so important to farmers, Eckel noted, that the nation's largest farm organization, the American Farm Bureau, to which PFA belongs, has sent a delegation to Geneva, Switzerland, several times to monitor the talks' progress. Eckel has served on that Farm Bureau delegation and also on USDA's Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee.
 The latest round of trade negotiations have been underway for six years but, Eckel said, "to date the GATT negotiations have not produced an agreement that accomplishes free and fair trade. Our association is hopeful that such an accord can be reached but we must withhold our support of the agreement until the details are final and the consequences for agriculture are weighed."
 Eckel also commented on the proposed North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The proposed agreement between the United States, Canada and Mexico would create a single market of 360 million people, yield almost $6 trillion in economic output and compare in size with the European Community.
 "If an agreement is negotiated properly and addresses the issues of market access, domestic subsidies, export subsidies and sanitary regulations," Eckel said, "NAFTA promises great opportunities for Pennsylvania and American farmers." An American Farm Bureau study shows that Pennsylvania dairy, livestock, grain/oil seed and perhaps even fruit and vegetable producers can expect a net increase in market opportunities under the NAFTA agreement.
 PFA is a voluntary, general farm organization representing 23,049 families in 54 county associations. It is affiliated with the American Farm Bureau, which represents 3.9 million families in 50 states and Puerto Rico.
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 /CONTACT: Janet B. Carson or Wilson Smeltz of the Pennsylvania Farmers' Association, 717-761-2740/ CO: Pennsylvania Farmers' Association ST: Pennsylvania IN: SU:


KA-JS -- PH025 -- 3829 01/27/92 14:16 EST
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Date:Jan 27, 1992
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