As Americans and Texans, we are blessed to enjoy the safest, most abundant and most affordable food supply in the world. Texas also benefits from being a major player in international agricultural trade.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, however, the world will need to produce 70 percent more food by 2050 to feed the 2.3 billion people expected to be added to the world's population. Feeding a growing world population will require the removal of barriers to free trade. Removing trade barriers is vital not only to our state's economy, but also to help alleviate food shortages in other parts of the world.
Mutually beneficial trade partnerships will help feed the world, and will boost Texas exports to other countries. For instance, as the result of a pending free trade agreement with South Korea, Texas farmers and ranchers will have access to nearly 50 million more consumers. If Congress approves this free trade agreement, it will also create jobs for Texas. The U.S. International Trade Commission reports a free trade agreement with South Korea alone could create 70,000 new U.S. jobs.
An estimated 96 percent of the world's consumers live outside of the United States. Much-needed free trade agreements with countries such as Colombia and Panama will help Texas farmers compete on a more level international playing field. Unfortunately, political issues continue to hinder these promising partnerships, while barriers to free trade send a message to farmers and ranchers that their crops aren't valued where they are needed most.
I hope our nation's leaders will continue to work with Texas to foster free trade agreements with other countries. Opening global markets will not only help our economy, but also will benefit consumers around the world who want the best in food and fiber.