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Well-known member
Feb 13, 2005
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Date:August 3, 2005

This editorial is authorized for reprint.

P.O. Box 6486 - Lincoln, NE 68506 - www.competitivemarkets.com

The following editorial was authored by Cap Dierks, a Nebraska rancher, former Nebraska state senator, and an OCM board member. If you would like to arrange an interview with Mr. Dierks, would like a photo to accompany the editorial, or need any further information, please contact:

Contact: Chase Carter, Executive Director
(402) 817-4443 [email protected]

CAFTA Near Win Shows Strength
of Independent Agriculture
by Cap Dierks

When the official 15-minute voting period ended, CAFTA had gone down to defeat with 180 “nays” and 175 “yeas.” House leadership violated the time limit to allow one hour of voting. The CAFTA-DR passed, but was the closest trade vote in history. Independent agriculture made its voice heard. If two more people had voted “no”, the agreement – which out sources American sovereignty and American agriculture - would have been prevented. Two legislators. The last issue debated so hotly in the House of Representatives was Medicare in 2003. Without the voice of independent agriculture, the vote would have never been much of an issue and CAFTA-DR would have passed overwhelmingly. I call this a win, and please don’t call me crazy.

We saw the spectacle of President Bush, Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez, and U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman engaged in horse trading, bribery, and threats to eke out a victory despite overwhelming public opinion against CAFTA. The House leadership promised to “break arms into a thousand pieces” as Arizona Representative Jim Kolbe said. House Ways and Means Chairman Bill Thomas of California held up the all important, for pork, highway bill until the CAFTA vote was clear, so rewards and punishments could be meted out. So much for immovable values and morality.
CAFTA was a win because we bucked the globalization trend, made future trade deals harder, and set the stage for advocating competition in the next Farm Bill.

Proponents that argued the economics of CAFTA were compelling; until it became clear the gross domestic product of each CAFTA country was the size of a small U.S. city, hardly an economic boon. We also showed NAFTA impoverished Mexican farmers, making it unlikely CAFTA farmers would prosper. Indeed the U.S. became a net food importer for the first time in history during NAFTA’s reign.

Proponents then abandoned that argument stating this was a democracy issue for the CAFTA countries. But producers revealed CAFTA guts and out-sources our democracy by allowing unelected foreign bureaucrats to strike local, state, and federal American laws if they believe the laws interfere with CAFTA.
Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, Rep. Dennis Rehberg of Montana, and Rep. Stephanie Herseth of South Dakota are among those to be commended for voting against CAFTA and for America. All Nebraska’s representatives voted for CAFTA, as well as all Iowa’s representatives except Leonard Boswell.

We must not be forgetful. Farmers, ranchers and feeders need to remember who voted for CAFTA. This information is at www.competitivemarkets.com. There are 217 House members and 54 Senators that voted for CAFTA and against America. Remember also that Ag Secretary Mike Johanns told the world in July that beef prices were too high, and now he has driven prices right back down after opening the Canadian border. Rural communities are hurting again.

Independent agriculture went toe to toe with the administration, Cargill, Tyson and the multinational monopolists and nearly won. We implanted a backbone in some House members who would never have thought to oppose the economically and democratically devastating globalization trend. This is not the time to give up. It is the time to pour on the coals.

Now comes the Farm Bill, in which producers’ competition reform, including a packer ownership prohibition, captive supply reform, contract arbitration fairness, and other pro-competition solutions to agriculture. USDA is holding its carefully staged “listening sessions” while restricting discussion issues on the Farm Bill. The Doha Round of WTO talks are threatening to further restrict our ability to govern ourselves.

American agriculture has risen up in strength to come close to victory where demoralizing defeat was the prior norm. Our obligation is to hold our Senators and Representatives accountable for doing the wrong thing, and praising those doing the right thing. Our Founding Fathers sacrificed more and achieved more. We have sacrificed some and achieved some. It is time to do more.

The Cattlemen’s Competitive Market Project (CCMP) is a self-help program for U.S. cattlemen, funded through voluntary contributions collected on cattle at the point of sale. Because the program is voluntary, funds may be used to promote USA RAISED (domestically produced) beef where other federally mandated programs cannot.

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