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DENVER—Rocky Mountain Farmers Union (RMFU) applauds U.S. Sens. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., Ken Salazar, D-Colo., and Craig Thomas, R-Wyo., for having the courage to vote against ratification of the Central American Free Trade Agreement or CAFTA. The 54-45 passage of CAFTA was the lowest margin of any trade agreement in modern times.
“We commend these senators for standing up against the intense pressure put on them to vote for CAFTA,” said John Stencel, RMFU president. “Unlike the senators who voted in the slim majority, Enzi, Salazar and Thomas recognized that implementation of CAFTA would perpetuate the problems brought on by previous trade agreements.”
RMFU criticized Sens. Wayne Allard, R-Colo., Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., and Pete Domenici, R-N.M., for voting in favor of CAFTA.
Washington insiders say the narrow passage of a trade agreement in the Senate is unprecedented in recent years and may signal failure of CAFTA in the House. Usually, the House is the first to vote on trade agreements and the place where they are most contested.
“Our elected officials are hearing so many complaints from the countryside that many are re-evaluating their stance on trade agreements, particularly those agreements that give away much and get little in return,” Stencel said. RMFU contends that the biggest problem with the CAFTA provisions is not even the damage the agreement would do to sugar and other producers but that it will set a losing precedence for future trade agreements.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Bureau of Census data published August 16, 2004, the U.S. agricultural balance of trade has fallen from a surplus of $24.7 billion in 1995 to a surplus of just $10.5 billion in 2003. This represents a 62 percent drop in the balance of trade in just eight years. As of this year, the U.S. now has an agricultural trade deficit.
“Despite the flip flop in our agricultural trade deficit that began a decade ago with implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, farmers from our trading partner countries are no better off,” said Stencel. “In fact, illegal immigrants are pouring across the border into the United States because their economic prospects are so dismal.”
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