Hopefuls Address

Industry Issues
Presidential candidates weigh in on dairy and trade policies.
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 president.
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 Round agreement.
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