Ag Commissioner pushes free trade

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Alabama's Commissioner of the Department of Agriculture and Industries says President Barack Obama should push through legislation that would allow for more free trade.

Commissioner John McMillan, a Republican, says that type of Congressional action could lead to decreasing the state's unemployment rate.

"Everybody's talking about jobs and it just kind of brought all of this together at one time" McMillan said at a press event at the department's main office in Montgomery. "You know if Washington wants to talk about the needs for jobs these are easy jobs to create."

McMillan said several factors went into his decision to urge the president to act. He said Obama's American Jobs Act as well as the state's high unemployment rate compelled him to call a press conference.

He also cited current manufacturing centers in Alabama as examples on how free trade with new countries could help the state's economy. He said the state's relationship with South Korea has led to Hyundai building a plant in Alabama and how relationships with Japan led to Toyota and Honda plants.

McMillan said agriculture could receive a boost from reduced tariffs and additional trade agreements.

"Directly in Alabama would be more manufacturing jobs than anything else you know that beef we were talking about is probably going to go to Nebraska or somewhere to be fed out before it gets shipped but that still helps our growers here in Alabama" McMillan said.

The Alabama Farmers Federation is also on record as for the legislation currently in Washington.

"Agricultural products going into South Korea, Colombia, and Panama right now are facing very high tariffs whereas the products coming in from those countries don't face the same kind of taxes or duties and so what these trade agreements have the potential to do is break down those barriers and level the playing field for everyone," spokesman Jeff Helms said.

The legislation has not yet been introduced to Congress.

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