US Trades Unite to Lobby for New Strategy

US - Last week, R-CALF USA members and numerous manufacturing, labor and raw material interests teamed up to lobby Congress on the need to reverse the United States’ skyrocketing trade deficit.
calendar icon 6 March 2009
clock icon 3 minute read

The effort was sponsored by the Coalition for a Prosperous America (CPA) – a relatively new organization that consists of agricultural, manufacturing and labor interests, which collectively seek reform of U.S. trade policy. R-CALF USA is a founding member of CPA and holds a seat on its board of directors.

“U.S. manufacturers and U.S. cattle producers share a common interest in reversing the U.S. trade deficit,” said Mike Callicrate, a member who also owns Ranch Foods Direct. “The same failed trade policies that are driving cattle prices below the cost of production are driving U.S. manufacturers out of business. We must restore U.S. productivity if we are to reverse our failing economy, and addressing our failed trade policy is where we must start.”

“As a rancher, I was pleased to work directly with domestic manufacturers from across the U.S. to jointly offer solutions to Congress on how to reverse our nation’s trade deficit,” said William Bledsoe, a member and a Colorado rancher. “Together, we urged Congress to immediately require all imports – including food and manufacturing components – to strictly meet U.S. standards and to take immediate steps to end the ongoing practice of currency misalignment.”

Bledsoe explained that U.S. cattle producers, manufacturers and consumers are being harmed by trade policies that allow products into the United States that are only equivalent to U.S. standards.

“This ‘equivalent’ standard means it can be different than our U.S. standard, and that is why we’re importing unsafe food and other substandard products into our country,” he said.

R-CALF USA Co-Founder Herman Schumacher, who feeds cattle in South Dakota, said R-CALF USA’s new partnership with manufacturing interests raised more than a few eyebrows in Congress.

“Members of Congress are not used to hearing the same message from both the cattle industry and the domestic manufacturing industry, and I think we were successful in explaining how current trade policy is hurting our economy,” Schumacher said. “Just like in the U.S. cattle industry, the voice of independent manufacturers has been overshadowed by their conventional trade associations that are dominated by large, multinational corporations. Our message to Congress was to quit listening to the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), as these trade organizations are dominated by multinational corporate members who have different interests than independent domestic producers.”

R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard said CPA was formed to help develop a comprehensive U.S. trade strategy that would promote domestic food production and domestic manufacturing.

“The U.S. has never had a comprehensive trade strategy other than to blindly follow a flawed free trade mantra,” he said. “Now that the ground has fallen out from under this free trade ideal and our trade deficit has become unmanageable, we’re hopeful that our joint lobbying effort with manufacturers will encourage Congress to begin dealing with our crushing trade deficit and outsourcing of vital wealth-creating industries so we can start rebuilding our weakened production base.”

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