Farm Bureau Archives - Shopfloor

A Worthy Trade Goal, But It Demands Serious Action

By | Trade | No Comments

The New York Times explicates President Obama’s goal of doubling U.S. exports within five years and reports, “Hurdles Deter Obama’s Pledge to Double Exports.” 

Opening access to foreign markets, especially the fast-growing developing countries in Asia and South America, remains a politically touchy matter that will require the cooperation of Congress. A free-trade agreement with South Korea that was negotiated under President George W. Bush and that has been endorsed by Mr. Obama still awaits Congressional ratification, as do agreements with Colombia and Panama, and important issues remain unresolved in each.

Even more critical, by some measures, is the rising strength of the dollar, which increases the cost of American goods and makes them less competitive. The dollar has risen in value relative to the euro and the pound and remains overvalued, in the view of many economists, against China’s renminbi.

The story cites the NAM’s “Blueprint to Double Exports in Five Years,” released last week, calling it a “detailed critique of United States trade policy.” The reporter then emphasizes currency issues, i.e., the relatively strong U.S. dollar and the Chinese’s valuation of its yuan, as an overriding factor. But as the Blueprint explains, it will take a broad array of action to achieve the goals outlined in the President’s National Export Initiative.

And some of those actions can be taken immediately, such as submission of the pending U.S. free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and Korea to Congress for enactment.

The NAM released the trade paper last week with the support of the American Farm Bureau Federation and Coalition of Service Industries. Our joint news release is here.

As Trade Goes By

By | General, Trade | No Comments

Bloomberg, “Trade Deals Needed to Aid U.S. Exports, Farmers Say“:

May 3 (Bloomberg) — Congress should pass U.S. free-trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama to meet President Barack Obama’s goal of doubling exports in the next five years, a group of agricultural trade groups said.

Legislation to pass the agreements, which would boost U.S. agricultural exports by $2.5 billion, has stalled in Congress, Bob Stallman, the president of the American Farm Bureau Association, said today on a conference call with reporters from Washington. Without the agreements, the U.S. may lose market share in those three countries to competing exporters including Canada and the European Union, Stallman said.

More …

Health Care: Whatever You Do, Don’t Discuss the Substance

By | General, Health Care | No Comments

UPDATE (3:53 p.m.): Talking Points Memo reports Democratic leadership saying the widely cited memo reported in Politico is a fraud. Politico has pulled the report until it can verify its accuracy.


This leadership memo instructs House Democratic communications staff how to handle questions and criticism of the CBO scoring of the health care bill.

(Via Hot Air)

In other health care developments, the American Farm Bureau Federation has sent a letter to House members stating the organization’s strong opposition to the health care legislation. From the Farm Bureau’s news release:

In a letter sent Thursday to all members of the House, AFBF President Bob Stallman said the legislation’s “negatives of new taxes, mandates, growth in government programs and overall cost far outweigh its benefits.” Stallman said Farm Bureau strongly favors health care reform, but it must be “workable, sustainable and balanced against the overall cost of doing business.”

Stallman told lawmakers that America’s agricultural producers are trapped in a broken insurance marketplace with few options and high insurance costs. “Farmers and ranchers need market-based reform that lowers costs and increases choices for private health insurance,” Stallman wrote.

UPDATE (3:20 p.m.): Retail Industry Leaders Association opposes health care legislation. John Emling, senior vice president, is quoted in RILA’s news release.

RILA has actively supported and constructively engaged in the effort to reform America’s health care system to reduce costs and expand retailers’ ability to tailor the plans they offer to the unique needs of their employees; this legislation does neither. RILA urges members of Congress to oppose this bill, and to start over on a bill that better addresses the needs of employers and individuals alike.

Dow-Jones covers the developments, “US Business Groups Opposing Health Bill As Vote Nears.”

Report from Geneva, V

By | Policy Experts, Trade | No Comments

A quiet day in Geneva, at least on the surface. The major event today was the long-anticipated “signaling conference” on services, in which countries indicated what they were prepared to do in liberalizing services. The Coalition of Services Industries indicated it was very pleased, and hoped that substantial new offers would be made as a result.

On NAMA, this has been a day of very intensive bilateral negotiations. The U.S. has been working in close tandem with the EU, and both have been pressing for China, Brazil, and India to step up to the plate. There seems, for the time being at least, to be some distance opening up between Brazil and India – in which Brazil is making some reasonable statements, indicating willingness to move ahead, and not being shrill in its tone. India, on the other hand, continues to be extremely difficult and critical.

Not too much to report. NAM was asked to speak for manufacturers at a meeting of Congressional staff who are here in Geneva, along with the Farm Bureau for agricultural interests. There is a lot of congressional concern for what this deal might do to affect import-sensitive industries and a lot of questions as to how there can be enough gain for export-oriented industries.

Also met again with U.S. negotiators, and continue to admire the job they are doing. It is not easy to be in bilateral meetings all day, be in green room and other WTO meetings, plan the next day, examine strategies, report back to Washington, etc.

Tomorrow will bring more bilateral meetings, and probably a meeting of the Green Room in which about 30 countries will give their reactions to the Lamy text developed yesterday. Most of them apparently will say in general it is OK, but they have problems in that the U.S. and Europe aren’t doing enough in agriculture. Many of them also oppose the anti-concentration language in the text for NAMA and the provision for sectorals.

Could be an interesting day tomorrow.

NAM’s Man in Geneva
Frank Vargo