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“What responsible cattle association would support this??

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HAY MAKER

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CAFTA-DR Off to a Rough Start


(Billings, Mont.) – R-CALF USA continues – and will continue – to relay the message in Washington, D.C., and throughout cattle country, that the U.S.-Central American-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) sets a negative precedent for independent U.S. cattle producers, and that the proposed pact actually is trade-destructive.



The United States Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday met to review the trade agreement and make informal recommendations on the proposed legislation to implement CAFTA-DR. The Committee took part in what is called a “mock” markup, which means the votes are not binding.



“While Tuesday’s action carries no official weight, a mock markup simply tests the waters, so to speak, to help those in the political process get a rough idea of whether a certain piece of proposed legislation will succeed or not,” explained Jess Peterson, R-CALF USA’s director of government relations. “The process merely sends a signal to the Administration about the Committee’s stance on CAFTA-DR and the items the committee would like to see addressed.”



The agreement was reported up to the Administration by a narrow vote of 11-9.



“R-CALF was disappointed in this vote, and the fact that the CAFTA-DR is inching forward,” said Dennis McDonald, co-chair of R-CALF USA’s Trade Committee. “However, we were energized by statements from several senators who oppose its passage.”



Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., spoke out regarding the continued trade deficits and the fact that the CAFTA-DR seriously jeopardizes agriculture in North Dakota and across the country.



“We need to carefully review the trade strategy of our nation, because if anything is clear, it is that this strategy is not working,” said Conrad. “When I look at CAFTA, I see an agreement that adds to our trade deficit with the region. I see a trade deal that only hurts North Dakota and our nation.”



Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, expressed her concern with the job loss that the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) had created for her state, and voted against CAFTA-DR.



Earlier this week, while addressing a crowd of Colorado ranchers, R-CALF USA President and Co-Founder Leo McDonnell noted the figures provided by CAFTA-DR supporters, who claim that U.S. beef exports to the CAFTA-DR countries will increase $40 million in 10 to 15 years. McDonnell then held up a dime and pointed out that for the individual cattle producer, the dime represented less than a 10-cent increase in value per head.



“In exchange for this increase of almost 10-cents, we give up the safeguards on cattle and beef, lose special provisions that address surging imports, provide South American countries with the access to ship live cattle into Central American countries that will be slaughtered and shipped to the United States as a product of the CAFTA countries,” he warned. “Worst of all, we give these countries complete market access, and the slim export opportunity the U.S. has in Costa Rica and Nicaragua is limited by a safeguard on our beef.



“What responsible cattle association would support an agreement such as this?” McDonnell asked.

# # #



Voting Record for U.S. Senate Finance Committee’s “mock” markup on CAFTA-DR on June 14, 2005:



Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M. No

Max Baucus, D-Mont. No

Jim Bunning, R-Ky. Yes

Kent Conrad, D-N.D. No

Mike Crapo, R-Idaho No

Bill Frist, R-Tenn. Yes

Charles Grassley, R-Iowa Yes
Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah Yes

James M. Jeffords, I-Vt. No

John F. Kerry, D- Mass. No

Jon Kyl, R-Ariz. Yes

Blanche L. Lincoln, D-Ark. Yes
Trent Lott, R-Miss. Yes

John D. Rockefeller IV, D-W.Va. No

Rick Santorum, R- Pa. Yes

Charles E. Schumer, N.Y. No

Gordon Smith, R- Ore. Yes

Olympia J. Snowe, R-Maine No
Craig Thomas, R- Wyo. Yes
Ron Wyden, D-Ore. Yes



# # #



R-CALF USA (Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America) represents thousands of U.S. cattle producers on domestic and international trade and marketing issues. R-CALF USA, a national, non-profit organization, is dedicated to ensuring the continued profitability and viability of the U.S. cattle industry. R-CALF USA’s membership consists primarily of cow-calf operators, cattle backgrounders, and feedlot owners. Its members – over 18,000 strong – are located in 48 states, and the organization has over 60 local and state association affiliates, from both cattle and farm organizations. Various main street businesses are associate members of R-CALF USA. For more information, visit www.r-calfusa.com or, call 406-252-2516.
 

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