Free Trade Agreements are the talk of the town — in Washington, D.C., that is — and among the leaders of agricultural organizations across the country.

But for folks fortunate enough to have a life beyond the ups-and-downs of national politics, the acronym ‘FTA’ doesn’t really mean much.

Trade issues, understandably, seem to get pushed to the background of farmers’ thoughts. Foreign trade is not immediately tangible. It doesn’t weigh in on day-to-day decision-making in farm operations, like cost increases and regulations do. And, many farmers assume trade issues are out of their hands.

But, America’s farmers and ranchers have a huge stake in global trade and the current FTAs with Korea, Colombia and Panama that are pending before Congress. Combined, the three agreements represent nearly $2.5 billion in U.S. agriculture exports. These FTAs should be in the forefront of every farmer’s and rancher’s thoughts.

Not playground politics

I recently had the opportunity to visit Panama and Colombia with a delegation of Farm Bureau leaders to show support for the pending U.S. trade agreements with both of the countries. The trip coincided with Farm Bureau’s efforts to get Congress to pass the Panama, Colombia and Korea free trade agreements as quickly as possible.

We met with government representatives, U.S. embassy officials, industry leaders and agricultural producers in Panama and Colombia to reinforce our support for the FTAs.