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American Corn Growers Assoc. urges Congress to reject U.S./Australian trade pact

(Tuesday, Feb. 10, 2004 -- CropChoice news) -- From a news release

Contact: Larry Mitchell (202) 835-0330
Keith Dittrich (402) 385-7786

WASHINGTON, D.C., Feb 9, 2004--- Keith Dittrich, president of the American Corn Growers (ACGA) called upon the U.S. Congress to reject the trade agreement signed this week by the Bush Administration with Australia. "The measure fails to provide adequate measures to safeguard America's dairy farmers and livestock producers from increased imports of products already in surplus in the U.S. The result will be increased negative economic pressure on the entire production agriculture sector of the U.S., which is already in dire financial turmoil. A recent National Milk Producers Federation study determined that a trade deal with Australia will close one-quarter of America's dairy farms, cost 150,000 jobs and $23 billion in lost revenue.

ACGA's rank and file recently passed a Special Order of Business on Trade Agreements at its twelfth annual convention in Reno, Nev., which states:

  • The ACGA recognizes that current and proposed free trade agreements enhance the multinational corporations' ability to exploit natural resources and production labor around the world at the expense of workers and traditional industry in the U.S., including family farmers.
  • We recognize that beef, dairy, and other livestock and other agricultural sectors will meet the same fate that the U.S. textile industry has if the proposed free trade agreements pass, and the continuing attrition among American vegetable and fruit producers caused by already existing free trade agreements will only accelerate.
  • We also recognize that one of the major concessions the U.S. government wants other countries to make in return for greater access to U.S. farm product markets is that they impose U.S.-like Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) protection. We see the government's hypocrisy in promoting free trade on one hand and promoting more restricted trade on items covered by IPRs on the other hand.
  • ACGA will oppose any trade agreements, such as the U.S./Australian Trade Agreement, The Central American Free-Trade Area (CAFTA), the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas (FTAA), or any other trade agreement which advance other sectors of the U.S. economy at the expense of U.S. farm families.
  • ACGA also calls for the government to take measures to bring the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the most liberal and abused in the world, under control. We also call for a review of the powers that Intellectual Property Rights grant, being the broadest and most liberally interpreted in the world, in order to enhance competition and provide Americans with more competitively priced pharmaceuticals.

"By law, this agreement requires ratification by the U.S. Senate," explained Dittrich. "We call on the Senate to reject this agreement until such time as all points of our special order have been addressed and the interests of all stakeholders have been properly renegotiated."

The American Corn Growers Association represents 14,000 members in 35 states. See http://www.acga.org