Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack spoke today on the banks of the Mississippi River in St. Louis about the importance of sustaining the record-breaking productivity of America's farmers and ranchers.

From the waterway that handles two-thirds of the nation's grain traffic — much of it destined for export markets around the world — Vilsack encouraged an audience of agriculture leaders from Missouri to focus on trade opportunities outside of our borders, as 95 percent of consumers live in foreign countries.

Vilsack pointed to the U.S.-Korea Trade Agreement, which needs congressional ratification, as a means of sustaining the growth of the U.S. agriculture sector. Strong trade will be a key contributor to building an economy that continues to grow, innovate and out-compete the rest of the world.

"Within 500 miles of St. Louis, farmers are producing more than three quarters of the nation's corn and soybean crops, injecting $75 billion into the global economy and supporting 265,000 jobs for this region," said Vilsack. "At the heart of the nation's farm economy, St. Louis and this region are pumping life into the national economy. Farm exports alone will support more than one million jobs in America this year. And every dollar in exports generates another $1.31 in economic activity. Congress can help U.S. farmers and ranchers sustain their record growth by passing smart trade deals like the U.S.-Korea Trade Agreement, which will increase exports and support job creation here at home."