Friday, May 29, 2009

Fair Trade is Key to Texas' Success

It appears Texas producers and Mexican consumers will both face some difficulties as a result of the Mexican government's decision yesterday to conduct inspections on 100 percent of U.S. meat shipments. This unnecessary action will certainly slow commerce of Texas meat products. It also has the potential to result in unwarranted rejections at the border and possibly even delisting meat plants from being able to ship products to Mexico.

As if the drought, depressed prices, high input costs and a hurricane were not enough, Texas cattle producers now have this trade barrier to contend with - one more weight hanging around their necks that impacts profitability. As the largest cattle producing and cattle feeding state in the nation, we stand more to lose over this new hurdle than anyone else. Last year when we were able to reopen the Mexican border to live cattle trade after a four-year closure, I thought we were back on track; but now this.

Without a doubt, the actions by Washington earlier this year to unilaterally alter a trilateral agreement (the cancellation of a cross-border program that gave Mexican trucks access to American highways) led to unnecessary trade tariffs being implemented on American goods by Mexico. It is clear that when political science replaces sound science, we all suffer.

The bottom line is Texas and American food products are the safest in the world and they go through more food safety assurance checks than most other countries, yet these products are being held to standards higher than anyone else in the world for absolutely no scientific reason. Trade decisions must be based on sound policy - not politics.

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