R-CALF USA members, via mail-in ballot, have approved four new resolutions that deal with international trade, which become organizational policy effective immediately. R-CALF USA Region VII Director Eric Nelson chairs the group's International Trade Committee.

"I look forward to working with the R-CALF USA Animal Health Committee on various trade issues," he said. "Trade and animal health go hand-in-hand because all this global trade actually makes the United States vulnerable to animal health issues. As part of R-CALF's trade policy, we have to make certain we don't cause any further animal health problems that could potentially devastate the domestic cattle industry. Hundreds of thousands of men haven't died fighting for this country just to have the borders between Canada, the United States and Mexico erased.

"Show me the money," he exclaimed. "I want to review the real impacts that previous free trade agreements (FTAs) have had on independent U.S. cattle producers. I look forward to negotiating terms important to independent cattle producers, but also look forward to scrutinizing trade agreements already in place to make certain they have had the favorable impact to producers that they were purported to have when they were being negotiated.

"We've got to step back now and really analyze existing trade agreements, do more comparisons between what proponents promised when various trade agreements were authorized, versus where we actually are today," Nelson emphasized. "If these deals are not benefiting domestic cattle producers, we need to ask Congress and the USTR (U.S. Trade Representative) why support should even be continued.

"I want to make certain trade policies are in place that will allow independent producers to benefit from trade through enhanced profits on cattle they raise," he noted. "Investing in multinational ag corporations shouldn't be the only way for producers to benefit from trade."

R-CALF USA members approved the following international trade resolution with a 3,267-13 vote: WHEREAS, USDA-APHIS published a proposed rule in the Jan. 9, 2007, Federal Register that would declare the southern region of Argentina foot-and-mouth disease-free; WHEREAS, the U.S. policy was built on protecting U.S. producers of food and fiber, and not managing a disease once it gets here. THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that R-CALF USA opposes the weakening of any animal health or food safety standard concerning importation of cattle or beef into the United States.

The second measure passed with a vote of 3,269-18: WHEREAS, the health of the U.S. cattle herd is vital to independent cattle producers, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that R-CALF USA opposes any federal rule change permitting the regionalization of countries with foreign animal disease problems if the change compromises the animal health and import safety standards R-CALF USA subscribes to.

With a vote of 3,280-8, R-CALF USA members approved the following policy: "WHEREAS, international trade policy has a significant impact on the long-term profitability of independent U.S. cattle producers, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that R-CALF USA requires, and will continue to work to ensure, that the following provisions be included in all trade agreements:

1. Classification of cattle and beef as perishable and cyclical items, and considered like/kind products.

2. Quantity and price safeguards.

3. Rules of origin (born, raised and slaughtered).

4. Upward harmonization of import health and safety standards."

Additionally, R-CALF USA members - at 3,201-48 - voted to do some housecleaning with passage of the following:

WHEREAS, Resolution IT2001-2: "1 - Be it resolved - R-CALF USA opposes the fast-track for the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas."is a duplicate of Resolution IT2000-04:

"Be it resolved - R-CALF USA opposes all further fast-track trade negotiating authority."

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that Resolution IT2001-2 be removed from policy.