In a letter to President Bush April 12, National Farmers Union expressed its disappointment in the administration's treatment of agricultural trade issues.

"In recent weeks, you have provided proper leadership by utilizing U.S. domestic trade remedies to curtail unfair trade practices by other nations in the steel and softwood lumber sectors. In addition, you have committed to protecting the interests of U.S. textile manufacturers in future trade negotiations. However, on a number of agricultural issues, your administration has failed to support farmers and ranchers who are reeling from the impact of unfair competition in both our domestic and overseas markets," the letter stated.

According to the Feb. 21, 2002, Outlook for U.S. Agricultural Trade, the value of U.S. agricultural exports has declined by 9 percent since 1996. During the same period of time, the value of agricultural imports has increased 23 percent.

"Obviously, our trade policy is not working for our nation or our nation's farmers," said NFU President Dave Frederickson.

The letter, signed by the 26 NFU board members, outlined the following flaws in the administration's trade policies:

--Not addressing unfair Canadian wheat exports to the United States even though findings of the International Trade Commission and Office of the U.S. Trade Representative support immediate action;

--Taking numerous actions that discourage the development of a commercial agricultural export market to Cuba;

--Seeking congressional approval of "fast track" trade negotiating authority that leaves Congress in a "take it or leave it" position;

--Allowing imports of milk protein concentrated to flood the U.S. market, and

--Not addressing exchange rates and competitive imbalances created by differing labor and environmental standards.

"Some agricultural interests are willing to accept the 'just trust us' attitudes of U.S. trade officials and that these and other issues can be resolved through WTO dispute settlement actions," the letter said. "The vast majority of producers, however, cannot afford to wait the many years this process may require without any guarantee of success. We encourage you to implement appropriate actions that will help ensure fair agricultural trade, now."

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