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China trade deal a potential disaster for independent agriculture

DENVER>>The head of the Denver-based Rocky Mountain Farmers Union today called upon members of Congress to reject the proposed Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) with China, labeling the pact as “another dose of the free-trade strychnine that has poisoned the agricultural economy for the past decade.”

Dave Carter, president of the RMFU noted that congressional approval of the PNTR next week would compound the serious flaws in the international trade arena.

“Farmers and ranchers want world trade, but we want trade that provides profitability for independent producers, not profits for the transnational trading companies,” Carter said. “The PNTR unfortunately continues to drive our markets toward the lowest common denominator. That’s bad news for producers, workers, and anyone concerned about a safe, secure food system.” The RMFU President noted that the proposed pact with China fails to address the weaknesses that have rendered other trade agreements as damaging to American agriculture.

Carter noted, “Years ago, the Canadian Free Trade Agreement was promoted as the salvation for American agriculture. Since adoption of that agreement a decade ago, American livestock producers have suffered an increasing flood of cheap imported cattle. We do not need any more solutions like this.” The Farmers Union leader noted that any agreement with China should contain “trust but verify” provisions to assure that the nation complies with agreements for annual, progressive reductions in trade barriers. In addition, China should be required to verify actions taken to protect and enhance individual rights.

Carter also noted that the proposed PNTR fails to address currency fluctuations between the two countries. That means that China could make its products more competitive by simply lowering the value of its currency in relation to the dollar. “The bottom line,” said Carter, “is that we can do better.”