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Ranchers, Manufacturers, Organized Labor Push Congress to Develop National Trade Strategy

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Washington, D.C. Visits to approximately 80 congressional offices were made last week when ranchers teamed up with U.S. manufacturers and organized labor groups to tell Congress that current U.S. trade policy has failed America, and it is past time for the U.S. to do what every other major trading nation has already done implement a national trade strategy that promotes domestic productivity and economic growth.

R-CALF USA Trade Committee Chair Reed Kelley and R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard engaged congressional members and their staffers shoulder-to-shoulder with U.S. tool and die manufacturers, metal fabricators, electronics manufacturers, other farm groups and representatives of labor groups during an intense, two-day Washington, D.C., trade fly-in sponsored by the Coalition for a Prosperous America (CPA). R-CALFUSA is a founding member of CPA, and Bullard serves as a director on CPA's board.

"We believe the diverse membership of our Coalition, once understood, is intriguing to our U.S. Senators and Representatives," said Kelley. "The fact is that organizations which historically have not always seen eye-to-eye on many national policy issues have now joined together. Our call for a totally new U.S. trade policy should cause many members of Congress to pay attention to our message.

"We explained that while the U.S. continues to naively practice idealistic free trade, every other country is practicing strategic trade management," he continued. "As a result, the U.S., for each of the past 18 years, has suffered a huge trade deficit that is the largest in world history. This deficit is running in the hundreds of billions of dollars and is a direct economic drain on our economy, it is causing the loss of our ranchers, the outsourcing of our manufacturers and jobs, and it is the main cause of our current recession."

The Coalition urged Congress to support the recently introduced Trade Reform, Accountability, Development and Employment Act (H.R. 3012 and S. 2821), which would require that Congress review all existing free trade agreements to determine their effects on the U.S. economy. This proposed legislation also requires that all future trade agreements contain provisions to address current trade problems and to specifically allow protection of key industries and sectors when there are national security concerns involved.

In addition, fly-in participants asked for co-sponsorship of the Reciprocal Market Access Act (H.R. 3786 and S. 1766), which requires trade negotiators to secure meaningful foreign market access for U.S. producers in all future trade agreements before giving additional access to the U.S. market.

First and foremost, the Coalition asked for sponsorship and passage of the Currency Reform for Fair Trade Act (H.R. 2378 and S. 1023), which would address China's and other Asian countries' ongoing practice of devaluing their currency in order to achieve an artificial trade advantage.

"We told Congress they currently are on the wrong track to reverse the ongoing contraction of the U.S. cattle industry," Bullard said. "U.S. trade policies have not resulted in benefits to U.S. cattle farmers and ranchers because beef and cattle imports have far exceeded beef and cattle exports for the past two decades."

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R-CALF USA, Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America, represents thousands of U.S. cattle producers on domestic and international trade and marketing issues. R-CALF USA, a national, non-profit organization, is dedicated (more...)
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