FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - Aug 5, 2005
House Vote on CAFTA a Profound Disappointment to ICON
Hyannis, NE ~ The Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska fear that US sovereignty
is forfeited by the recent passage of the Central American-Dominican
Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR). The trade act was narrowly passed by
the U.S. House
of Representatives on July 27th by a vote 217-215.
All three members of Nebraska's House delegation supported
the agreement despite intense opposition to CAFTA by Nebraska ranchers,
farmers, and other agricultural groups. ICON President Chris Abbott
was in Washington, DC for the vote, having spent the previous three
on Capitol Hill, lobbying House members to vote against the trade agreement.
"The passage of CAFTA will accelerate the concentration of our
wealth into the hands of just a few," noted Abbott. "CAFTA
has no safeguards
or strong protections for workers rights. CAFTA gives multi-national
companies a distinct advantage over domestic producers by shutting down
plants in the US and moving those operations to countries with cheap
labor. CAFTA is the wrong model for moving toward a fair trade environment
"The House leadership held the vote in the middle of the night,
violated their own rules by keeping the vote open for an hour while
deals were made to garner votes. It was extremely disappointing to witness
the politics involved in this process," said Abbott. "House
the will of the people and I predict there will be consequences. Had
Nebraska delegation voted No on CAFTA, the agreement would
have been sent
back to the drawing board. That's how close the vote was."
In other cattle-producing states, Congressmen voting against CAFTA were:
Cubin (WY), Herseth (SD), Pomeroy (ND), Rehberg (MT), Salazar (CO),
(CO), DeGette (CO), Tancredo (CO), Simpson (ID), and Otter (ID).
"In the end, CAFTA could not stand on its merits. As a result,
leadership resorted to twisting arms and political deals to force through
trade agreement that 90% of the American population does not support.
supports fair trade agreements that put America's farmers, ranchers,
and workers first. CAFTA, like NAFTA, does not," commented Abbott.
"CAFTA procurement rules prohibit all laws giving preference to
local businesses," according to U.S. Rep. Charlie Norwood. CAFTA
overturns every state and federal law that requires government agencies
buy American products or use American workforces. "CAFTA would
overturn all the hard work our state legislatures have done to support
local businesses and jobs," said Norwood. "It would overrule
all state and
federal law on the issue, effectively destroying our sovereignty, and
block any action by the voters to correct this outrage."
Abbott worries about the long-term ramifications of CAFTA. "Serious
rights were forfeited when CAFTA was passed. We've handed our sovereignty
from Central America," said Abbott. Is that what the American
"The way this agreement is written undermines the ability of US
cattlemen to compete
in today's marketplace because it doesn't allow us to differentiate
our product from foreign imports,"
said Abbott. "If our competitors in Central America can produce
cattle for one-third of our cost,
then the only way we're going to be able to survive is through the
introduction of Country of Origin Labeling (COOL). Big business and
other cattle organizations have blocked that law by deleting funding
mandatory COOL." Abbott continued. "The grass roots cattleman
COOL, despite what national organizations say, and our representatives
to recognize that there is a disconnect between what their members want
what their leadership says they want."
"While we are profoundly disappointed in the final outcome
on CAFTA, I believe that we have made significant progress in moving
cause of Nebraska's independent producers forward."