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CAFTA-DR Task Force in Nicaragua

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HAY MAKER

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-----Original Message-----
From: R-CALF USA [mailto:[email protected]]
Sent: Wednesday, June 29, 2005 3:49 PM
To: [email protected]
Subject: CAFTA - DR Task Force in Nicaragua
Importance: High


R-CALF United Stockgrowers of America


For Immediate Release Contact: Shae Dodson, Communications Coordinator
June 29, 2005 Phone: 406-672-8969; e-mail: [email protected]



CAFTA-DR Task Force in Nicaragua


(Managua, Nicaragua) - R-CALF USA's CAFTA-DR (Central American-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement) fact-finding task force arrived in Managua, Nicaragua, on Tuesday, June 28. The team will spend eight days in Central American nations to research and analyze the potential effects of CAFTA-DR on the U.S. cattle industry. The task force traveled to Nicaragua after spending three days in Costa Rica touring ranches, cattle-feeding operations, packing plants, grocery outlets and visiting with cattle industry leaders and embassy officials.



Members of the task force are: Dennis McDonald, Montana Cattlemen's Association president and R-CALF USA International Trade Committee Co-Chair; R-CALF USA Director and Missouri veterinarian Max Thornsberry, who also chairs R-CALF USA's Animal Health Committee; Joel Gill, R-CALF USA's Mississippi membership chair, who also is vice president of Mississippi Order Buyers and president of the Mississippi Livestock Marketing Association; and Doug Zalesky, Ph.D., a Colorado State University bovine research scientist and cattle producer from Colorado, who recently was elected president of the Colorado Independent Cattle Growers Association.



"We were shocked to find Nicaraguan law prohibits the importation of U.S. beef processed in plants not certified by Nicaraguan authorities," said McDonald. "Nicaraguan authorities have never undertaken inspection of U.S. plants. This is simply a mechanism to restrict U.S. beef trade in Nicaragua. Costa Rica has similar laws that prohibit the importation of U.S. beef, poultry products, fruits and vegetables, as well as seafood.



"Both Costa Rica and Nicaragua have strict mandatory food-labeling laws, which require all imported food products to be labeled," continued McDonald. "CAFTA-DR language prohibits many cuts of U.S. beef from entering either Costa Rica or Nicaragua for up to seven years. These trade barriers, added to the language in CAFTA-DR, which allows free and unfettered access to U.S. markets for Central American beef, make it very difficult to take the position that CAFTA-DR addresses global trade distortions or helps to level the playing field for U.S. cattle producers.



"It's little wonder that back in Washington, the Bush Administration is having difficulty passing CAFTA-DR through Congress," McDonald said. "American citizens know CAFTA-DR is a bad deal for the United States, and it's a bad deal for Central America.

"We are also very concerned to learn that both Nicaragua and Costa Rica are presently shipping large numbers of feeder cattle to Mexico duty-free," McDonald pointed out. "These cattle then enter the U.S. duty-free under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). This trans-shipment of cattle is disturbing. The practice will accelerate if CAFTA-DR is ratified.



"In one instance, a group of Costa Rican ranchers were in the process of shipping 10,000 head of Costa Rican cattle to Mexico," McDonald explained. "This is a concern since the Nicaraguan herd numbers 3.4 million head, and this number will increase substantially if CAFTA is ratified."



Thornsberry inspected a local Costa Rican slaughter facility after admittance into a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) slaughter plant was refused, although a previous appointment had been made and approved. The inspected plant slaughters 300 head of cattle and 400 hogs daily.



"The plant was well staffed since labor costs are a fraction of those in the U.S.," commented Thornsberry. "The plant management indicated their desire to become a USDA-approved plant to export to the U.S.



"The plant was sub-standard with open doors into all areas of the facility, and both species were being processed in the same areas," he continued. "Poor quality refrigeration was very apparent, with cooler temperatures in the mid-60 degree area, rather than the 40-degree temperatures required in U.S. plants."



Early information gathered in Nicaragua suggests that expansion of the national cattle herd is not only likely, but is well underway.



"During ranch visits in Costa Rica, we were informed that large numbers of breeding stock are being exported to Nicaragua," noted Zalesky. "Upon arrival in Nicaragua, we were informed by embassy and trade officials that Texas interests recently visited Nicaragua to negotiate development of cattle-feeding operations in the country. We've also learned that corn is a major crop here, and there is great potential for expansion in corn production."



"Superior genetics have been imported into Central America from the U.S., most notably from the Hudgins Ranch and the V 8 Ranch in Texas," said Gill. "Through the use of artificial insemination techniques, Costa Rican ranchers have been able to improve their breeding stock to the point that their genetics are widely sought after throughout the Central American region.



"With their herd improvements, the Costa Ricans no longer need to rely on U.S. genetics on a widespread basis," Gill said. "From our conversations with representatives of the U.S. government assigned to Nicaragua, it appears the same is true here."



Gill noted that many of the live animals the task force viewed in Costa Rica were destined for export to Nicaragua and El Salvador. Nicaragua exports breeding stock to Mexico, as well as other nations in the region.



Other facts gathered during initial Nicaraguan visit include:



1. Nicaraguan agriculture laborers average $2 per day, with no benefits.

2. Nicaraguans have a substantial comparative advantage over U.S. producers because of rich volcanic soil, constant year-round temperatures, climate, and rainfall, which varies from 30 inches to 80 inches annually.

3. Costa Rican labor leaders oppose CAFTA-DR because of the negative impact on family and culture, and because the agreement will allow for exploitation of cheap labor. The AFL-CIO maintains the labor standards recently have eroded in Central America in anticipation of CAFTA-DR ratification.

4. During a meeting with the R-CALF USA CAFTA-DR task force, the U.S. Economic Counselor in Nicaragua said the political climate in that nation makes ratification of CAFTA-DR unlikely.

5. During a meeting with U.S. Embassy officials, the task force learned that in 1991, China and Taiwan financed a program to increase cattle production in Nicaragua. Further, U.S. dollars are presently flowing to Nicaragua to add value to Nicaraguan cattle and to promote Nicaraguan organic cattle production.



# # #



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 47 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.
 

ranch hand

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Task Force Finds Strong Opposition to CAFTA-DR
(Managua, Nicaragua) – R-CALF USA’s task force assigned to visit Central American nations to research and analyze support for, and the impact of, the U.S.-Central American-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) announced today that strong political and popular opposition to CAFTA-DR exists in both Costa Rica and Nicaragua.

Members of the task force are: Dennis McDonald, R-CALF USA's International Trade Committee chairman, and president of Montana Cattlemen's Association; R-CALF USA Director and Missouri veterinarian Max Thornsberry, who also chairs R-CALF USA's animal health committee; Joel Gill, R-CALF USA's state membership chair for Mississippi, who also is vice-president of Mississippi Order Buyers and president of the Mississippi Livestock Marketing Association; and, Doug Zalesky, Ph.D., a Colorado State University bovine research scientist and cattle producer from Colorado, who recently was elected president of Colorado Independent Cattle Growers Association.

“In Costa Rica, President Abel Pacheco appointed a committee to study CAFTA. The leading Costa Rican opposition candidate, Otton Solis, is opposed to CAFTA, and because this is such a hot- button political issue here, the matter has been tabled until after the January presidential election,” said McDonald. “Meanwhile in Costa Rica, 10,000 people protested CAFTA last week by marching through San Jose, the capital city.”

On Wednesday, June 29, the task force met with a group of Nicaraguan agricultural leaders, including the presidents of two of the nation's largest cattle organizations. The leaders advised the task force they are opposed to CAFTA-DR because it fails to address their concerns over dairy products, grain and cattle issues.

“Certain groups of U.S. politicians are being disingenuous when they state that these nations favor the trade agreement,” noted McDonald. “On the other hand, Honduras, San Salvador and Guatemala have already ratified CAFTA.”

“One of the persistent and troubling pieces of information we continue to learn is that large numbers of live cattle are flowing to Mexican feedlots from Costa Rica and Nicaragua, and subsequently into the U.S. under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA),” commented Zalesky.

R-CALF USA’s task force also has been told that large quantities of beef from Venezuela, Colombia and Uruguay are being shipped to Nicaragua and Costa Rica.

“Beef from these three South American countries is currently barred from entering the U.S. due to Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD)," said Thornsberry. “Under CAFTA, there is no prohibition of the transshipment of cattle.”

Following a visit to the Seminole Ranch near Managua, Nicaragua, Zalesky indicated that task force members again witnessed firsthand that Central American cattle producers are excelling in the production of purebred breeding stock and commercial cattle.

“Semen and embryos imported from the U.S. have allowed producers here to develop purebred stock that rivals those produced in the U.S.,” he said. “Additionally, commercial producers are utilizing effective crossbreeding programs to produce cattle with the genetics suitable for the environment and to provide carcass quality.

“The incorporation of carcass genetics from U.S. Red Angus bulls will go a long way towards producing cattle that can both survive in the Nicaraguan environment, but also produce carcasses that are of higher quality,” Zalesky continued. “Combined with cheaper labor, a near ideal climate throughout the year, and abundant forage production, these producers have a significant production advantage over U.S. producers. I have learned during this trip that it would be a grave mistake to think that cattle produced in Central America can be discounted as poorer quality cattle and that they cannot compete in many markets.”

Task force members reported that meetings with Nicaraguan producers and political leaders show they are extremely concerned about the negative effect of CAFTA-DR and worry that the trade agreement will put many agricultural producers out of business.

“Like ourselves, they believe that in its present form CAFTA-DR is good for only a few, but that many will suffer,” Zalesky said. “They fear that U.S. corporate interests will disrupt their culture.”

Nicaraguan officials have confirmed that Texas interests already have visited their country to negotiate development of cattle feeding operations.

Thornsberry said he was puzzled to learn that Nicaraguan cattlemen are concerned about the American Meat Association's (AMI’s) demand that all cattle in Nicaragua be electronically identified with radio frequency identification (RFID) implants in the animal's ear.

“Not only is no infrastructure in place to accommodate this demand, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has refused to approve the implanting of RFID transmitters, fearing that metal and electronic materials could inadvertently affect the food supply,” noted Thornsberry.

“Nicaraguan cattlemen have in place a very effective form of individual animal identification, which is their hot iron brand,” he added. “Ownership cannot transfer without this identifying brand that traces the animal to the farm of origin.”

Gill said the low costs of production among Central American nations are notable and significant.

“In Nicaragua, the cost of land is about $400 per acre, while labor costs average $2.50 per day, he said. “Producers here can raise a cow/calf pair on a little less than four acres of land, using no fertilizer, without any feed costs beyond their own pasture. The natural forage here averages 12 percent to 18 percent protein.

“The cost of taking an animal from weaning (around 350 pounds) to finished weight (1,100 pounds) costs $118, which makes the cost of gain about 13 cents per pound, plus the costs of vaccines and minerals,” Gill pointed out. “With processed beef worth $1.12 per pound, this provides a handsome profit to the producer. Our guide here in Nicaragua related that the Nicaraguan cow herd is now over 3.4 million head and will most likely double in the next five years with better market access in the U.S.”

# # #



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 47 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.
 
A

Anonymous

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3. Costa Rican labor leaders oppose CAFTA-DR because of the negative impact on family and culture, and because the agreement will allow for exploitation of cheap labor. The AFL-CIO maintains the labor standards recently have eroded in Central America in anticipation of CAFTA-DR ratification.

I thought Callicrate was off his rocker when he quoted Mexican producer concerns about our exports to Mexico as a reason not to support NAFTA.

Here R-CULT does the same thing with CAFTA!


Gosh, if Costa Rican labor leaders are concerned about CAFTA, it's probably because it would be beneficial to the U.S.


R-CALF and "FACT FINDING". What an oxymoron!

8 days in Central America to support a trade bias funded by sales of donated calves. Only in America!



~SH~
 

ranch hand

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~SH~ said:
3. Costa Rican labor leaders oppose CAFTA-DR because of the negative impact on family and culture, and because the agreement will allow for exploitation of cheap labor. The AFL-CIO maintains the labor standards recently have eroded in Central America in anticipation of CAFTA-DR ratification.

I thought Callicrate was off his rocker when he quoted Mexican producer concerns about our exports to Mexico as a reason not to support NAFTA.

Here R-CULT does the same thing with CAFTA!


Gosh, if Costa Rican labor leaders are concerned about CAFTA, it's probably because it would be beneficial to the U.S.


R-CALF and "FACT FINDING". What an oxymoron!

8 days in Central America to support a trade bias funded by sales of donated calves. Only in America!



~SH~

I take this as they aren't worried about the cattle producers of their country, but all the other trade that will effect their families and culture.
 

Bro

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“In Nicaragua, the cost of land is about $400 per acre, while labor costs average $2.50 per day, he said.

Wow, if this deal passes, I'm moving there!
 

Mike

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Bro said:
“In Nicaragua, the cost of land is about $400 per acre, while labor costs average $2.50 per day, he said.

Wow, if this deal passes, I'm moving there!

Bro, I couldn't make on $2.50 per day. :roll:
 

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