Things Are A Mess — Or Does It Just Appear
administration’s voter satisfaction poll numbers are embarrassingly
low and continue to drop, but still not quite as bad as the poll numbers
for the U.S. Congress.
Each political party is trying to make the case that
the other is corrupt, incompetent to govern and is not leading the country
in the right direction. Pundits are piously pontificating and liberally
offering their opinions about everything, whether it is a subject in which
they are knowledgeable or not. The tone of public discourse is dour,
negative and blameful. Democrats are calling for change, and Republicans
are working to change their image.
This macro image of political thought is leading many
to conclude that Democrats could take control of both the House and Senate
when the 110th Congress convenes in January 2007.
However, microanalysis of the situation gives a
different picture. Although the November election applies to all 435 House
seats, only 25 to 30 are thought to really be at play, meaning they will
have very competitive races. Republicans currently have a 30-seat
advantage. Democrats would have to win virtually all the competitive
races to regain control of the House. In other words, Democrats would
have to pick up 16 seats. In the Senate, there are 17 Democrats, 15
Republicans and one Independent that are up for re-election. Of the 33
seats being contested, only two Democrats, one Republican and one
Independent have announced they will not seek re-election. Again, for
Democrats to regain control of the Senate they would have to have an
overwhelming victory, a net gain of 7 seats in the November elections.
The microanalysis is the prevailing predictor of the
outcome in four out of five elections — 80 percent of the time
— but in one of five elections, there is an overwhelming groundswell
that results in a “throw the bums out” victory for the minority
party. The last time such a thing happened, Newt Gingrich’s
“Contract with America” made a clean sweep of the House with a
54-seat swing going from Democrats to Republicans. Microanalysis had
suggested there would be a gain of 25 seats for the Republicans, not even
half of the actual results. Although unlikely, this could be a “throw
the bums out” year.
The WTO negotiations also appear to be a mess, but may
not be in such a state of disarray as a macroanalysis would suggest. It is
true, there have been numerous deadlines that have come and gone, and the
latest deadline, which was set for April 30, was not met either. Until now,
the deadlines have been soft targets that, if not met, would not stop the
negotiations from going forward. The real deadline is December 31, 2006,
the date by which the president must submit a trade agreement to Congress.
Existing law provides authority for the president to
negotiate trade treaties and present the total agreement to Congress, which
must then approve or reject the total agreement without change or
modifications. This authority for the president and restriction on Congress
expires on June 30, 2007, and the trade agreement must be presented to
Congress six months prior to expiration. This is a hard deadline.
All the talk about the current WTO round of trade
negotiations being dead is simply not accurate. There is time for
completion of the round but not much more time to waste. These
semi-public, closely watched and widely reported negotiations are fraught
with diplomatic and geopolitical pressures on both domestic and global
fronts. The 142 member nations of the WTO protect their positions trying
not to give too much too soon. Usually they only come together when real
deadlines loom on the horizon, and that will probably happen again in the
next few months.
There are great gains to be had for the U.S. dairy
industry if a new agreement is reached. All export subsidies will be
eliminated by the year 2013. Most economists believe that removal of these
world market price-depressing subsidies will result in world market prices
rising to the U.S. price surface. Dairy farmers and marketers of finished
dairy food products and ingredients could be very competitive in the world
trade arena, and world trade of dairy products is expected to significantly
increase, a win-win situation for the U.S. dairy industry — higher
prices and increased sales.
Dairy farmers, manufacturers and marketers should be
doing everything possible to encourage our negotiators to successfully
complete a new agreement. Because of export subsidies and the resulting
depressed world market prices, many have demagogued the opportunities for
dairy exports. A new paradigm is now in order; a new vision of a global
market with increased access to the markets of developing countries must be
pursued. The U.S. dairy industry needs to prepare for this new thought
Now is the time to do the analysis, to test the
results and to prepare for global access — U.S. policies and
government programs should be designed to improve and enhance the
competitiveness of the U.S. dairy industry.
Tip Tipton, chairman and chief executive officer of
the Washington, D.C.-based Tipton Group, is the former CEO of the
International Dairy Foods Association.
FOOD’S DRIVING FORCES
IFT show takes you behind the latest innovations in
the food industry.
“Everything eaten is affected by food science and technology —
influenced during its production, distribution, storage, preparation or
elsewhere,” says James Klapthor, media relations manager for the
Institute of Food Technologists (IFT). “Whether fresh or frozen,
boxed or bottled, trucked, shipped or flown, food science and technology is
involved at some time in some way.”
Experience this magnitude at the IFT Annual Meeting
and Food Expo, June 24 to 28 in Orlando, Fla., the largest annual food
science forum and exposition in the world. Thousands of food scientists,
suppliers, marketers, reporters and others from around the globe annually
attend the convention, attracted by the promise of encountering the driving
forces behind the latest innovations and information affecting consumers,
growers, processors, regulators and researchers who make the U.S. food
supply the most diverse of any in the world.
Experts from industry, government agencies, and
research institutions will provide insight in hundreds of presentations
covering topics ranging from new products to nutrition, from food defense
to bird flu. Some 1,000 companies utilizing 250,000 square feet of
exhibition space will present their latest innovations for making food more
fun, functional, nutritious, appealing and accessible to all.
Leading the way will be the Food Network’s
“Good Eats” guru Alton Brown, who will open the expo on Sunday,
June 25. Brown is part science, part history, part tools and always
For a comprehensive list of sessions and exhibitors,
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