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MILTON, Del. - Three trade agreements passed by Congress this week are expected to benefit poultry farmers and companies on Delmarva.

Congress approved the deals with Columbia, Panama and South Korea. The agreements cover a variety of agriculture products but are expected to eliminate tariffs on American chicken in those countries over the next two decades.

"I think overall, it's good," said William Brooks, a poultry grower outside of Milton.

Brooks has been raising chicks since 1976. He currently grows for Perdue Farms. The farmer said the agreements will likely benefit large poultry companies the most, but everything trickles down.

"If they're hurting too much, we're going to feel it along with them," Brooks said.

Tariffs make American chicken more expensive; the markups range from five to 260-percent in Panama.

"We export one out of every five chickens that we raise on Delmarva," said Sen. Tom Carper, D-Delaware. "We want to be able to export more - increase our exports around the world and certainly to these three countries."

Carper said the deals will likely allow American chicken companies to sell more dark meat overseas. Americans tend to prefer white meat.

Analysis by the American Farm Bureau Federation found the agreements would likely create about 35 jobs in Delaware and benefit the state's poultry industry by roughly $1.6 million. In Maryland, approval of the deals is expected to create 120 jobs and add roughly $1.7 million to the state's poultry industry.

The trade agreements cover a variety of agriculture products from corn to cotton. Poultry tariffs are scheduled to be phased out in the three countries over several years, according to the Farm Bureau.

Carper said two of the three countries have already approved the measures. American trade officials and ambassadors will make sure the other countries fully implement the new policies, Carper said.

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