• If you are having problems logging in please use the Contact Us in the lower right hand corner of the forum page for assistance.

State ag directors whack CAFTA, White House

Help Support Ranchers.net:

HAY MAKER

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 13, 2005
Messages
8,789
Reaction score
0
Location
Texas
>
> State ag directors whack CAFTA, White House
>
> > It was an embarrassing moment for the White House and its free trade
> acolytes.
> There, hat-in-hand before the agriculture commissioners, secretaries
> and directors of each state and four U.S. territories at the midyear
meeting
> of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, was Allen
> Johnson, the lead ag negotiator from the Office of the U.S. Trade
> Representative.
> Johnson's request to the NASDA gathering Feb. 21 was plaintive:
> Please, don't do this; please don't go on the record in opposition of the
> Central American Free Trade Agreement, or CAFTA.
> In the end, Johnson, whom the White House had called back from
> vacation to address the group, got a half a loaf. Convening as a general
> assembly, the state ag chiefs narrowly defeated consideration of a
committee
> recommendation to oppose CAFTA.
> But the whisker-thin win for Johnson did not cancel the unanimous
> vote (three of its 23 members abstained) two days earlier by NASDA's
> Marketing and International Trade Committee to oppose CAFTA.
> Johnson urged the group to keep that split with the White House quiet.
> Fat chance. The vote sent shockwaves through the usually pro-trade
> NASDA whose members literally know the lay of the food and farm land in
> their home states. That's their job; looking farmers and ranchers in the
eye
> everyday.
> On Feb. 19, though, almost half of them looked in the mirror and
> said, "My producers are right; CAFTA is wrong." Moments later, the White
> House fire bell rang.
> There are many reasons why CAFTA, the 2004 trade treaty between the
> U.S., El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and the Dominican
Republic
> that awaits a vote in Congress, is wrong, says Delaware Secretary of
> Agriculture Michael Scuse.
> "My view of the Feb. 19 vote," explains Scuse, who is vice chairman
> of the NASDA committee that dinged the treaty, "is that we're more
concerned
> about how CAFTA affects farmers than how it affects trade."
> For example, he says, ag chiefs from coastal states worry about crop
> pests hitchhiking into the U.S. on food from Central American.
> Others say CAFTA's sugar imports will open the door to bigger sugar
imports
> in future treaties.
> "But my big problem with it," Scuse notes, "is that CAFTA countries
> get access to U.S. food markets now and our access to theirs is phased in
> over 10, 15 and 20 years. For instance, their poultry tariffs won't be
fully
> lifted for 17 to 20 years. That doesn't look like fair trade to poultry
> growers."
> His point is even sharper if U.S. farmers view the trade pact as the
> White House views it: CAFTA is a small but necessary stepping stone to
> bigger trade bridges like the hemisphere-wide Free Trade Area of the
> Americas and Doha's worldwide ag deal.
> The trouble with that trade double-shot, however, is that if future
> treaties follow CAFTA--U.S. domestic markets first; U.S. foreign markets
> years later--nations like Brazil, Russia and India will become food
> exporting powerhouses to both the U.S. and the world while American
farmers
> become calendar watchers.
> Truth is, we already are. As former Secretary of Agriculture Ann
> Veneman loved to remind anyone who would listen, the U.S. has the lowest
ag
> import trade tariffs in the world, 12 percent, yet faces the highest ag
> import tariffs, 60 percent, around the world.
> Veneman, however, never revealed the reason behind that
> disparity--we disarmed. We agreed to lower our tariffs; they never did.
> More importantly, says Scuse, deals like CAFTA institutionalize the
> disparities for years and decades to come. "Short-term there won't be any
> benefits in CAFTA for our farmers. At least none that I see."
> Indeed, he adds, the NASDA vote wasn't about CAFTA.
> "The point was to send a message," says Scuse. "That message is, 'I
> work for farmers who risk everything everyday... and I don't believe
they're
> getting a fair deal in deals like this.'"
> Trade rep Johnson heard it Feb 21, but he asked NASDA to keep it
> quiet--perhaps because he knows the White House does trade deals about as
> well as it does budgets.
> Nothing in 'em adds up.

---
 

Latest posts

Top