Presidential candidates weigh in on dairy and trade
President George W. Bush
and his challenger, U.S. Sen. John Kerry, addressed priority issues for the
dairy industry while on the campaign trail in August.
The president reminded a Wisconsin audience of his
rival’s previous support of the Northeast Dairy Compact, while the
Democratic presidential nominee stepped out in favor of the World Trade
Organization’s (WTO) draft framework agreement released August 1.
With just a few weeks to go until Election Day, both
candidates are seeking to find common ground with voters in political swing
states, several of which are major dairy states.
In a speech in Chippewa Falls, Wis., Bush noted that
“since our administration took office, we have abolished regional
dairy compacts to allow producers from across the nation to compete on the
same playing field.” He criticized Kerry for his repeated votes in
the Senate in favor of the Northeast Dairy Compact, which brought
artificially higher prices to dairy farmers in six New England states. The
Massachusetts senator stated last month — also while in Wisconsin
— that he would not support dairy compacts if he is elected
In addition, Bush outlined his administration’s
record on agriculture, stating that America’s farm economy is strong
because world markets are open to U.S. farm products and consumers know the
food they eat is not only safe but affordable.
Wisconsin can expect more visits from both candidates,
as it is a hotly contested battleground in the November election. In the
2000 presidential race, former Vice President Al Gore won the state’s
11 electoral votes with just under 48 percent of the ballots cast, compared
to 47.6 percent for Bush, a difference of about 5,700 votes.
On free trade, the Kerry campaign announced the
senator’s support of the WTO framework agreement that seeks to
significantly liberalize global trade. The Bush administration negotiated
the framework; much of the food and agriculture community, including IDFA,
support the outline, which is a major step forward toward a full WTO Doha
A campaign spokesman said Kerry views the framework as
a “positive development that’s got a lot of potential.”
However, he noted that the “devil is in the details” and that
Kerry would not support a WTO agreement weakens U.S. trade laws or
“harms our vital economic interests.”
In his Senate career, Kerry cast several high-profile votes
in favor of free-trade deals, including his 1993 vote to implement the North
American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). But on the campaign trail, he has tempered
his free-trader image, stating that he’ll do a 120-day review of all U.S.
trade deals if he becomes president.
Kerry has been highly critical of Bush’s enforcement of labor and environmental
provisions in existing agreements. df