Guest Commentary by Stephanie Herseth Recently, the U.S. Trade Representative, Robert Zoellick, announced that the World Trade Organization had reached a framework agreement on the next round of trade negotiations for agriculture.
As someone raised on the family farm, and from talking directly with farmers and ranchers across the state, I know that this framework raises some serious concerns for South Dakota producers.
The existing Farm Bill contains hard-fought provisions that are designed to protect South Dakota�s small and medium-sized family farms from unpredictable market and production risk. I believe the WTO Agreement contains many significant threats to those protections. It lays the groundwork for policies that could severely undermine and destabilize the agricultural safety net that Congress put in place just two years ago.
I fear that this framework agreement indicates is a step towards negotiating away our safety net in favor of large multinational agriculture interests.
While everyone agrees that knocking down other nations� artificial trade barriers can bring rewards, it must be done in a way that benefits family farmers and ranchers rather than huge agribusiness corporations. We cannot agree to trade deals that injure our small communities and stymie rural economic growth.
Free trade for South Dakota agriculture must also mean fair trade. We must insist that new trade agreements eliminate barriers to marketing American food and fiber products abroad and provide us with access to new markets.
We also must also ensure that currency fluctuations are accounted for in future trade agreements, and that we aggressively oppose false trade barriers that discriminate against biotechnology.
In Congress, I am and will continue to be a dedicated advocate for these interests. As a member of the Agriculture Committee, I will work to ensure that our trade negotiators effectively represent the interests of South Dakota�s independent crop and livestock producers, not just corporate agricultural conglomerates.
South Dakota producers deserve a level playing field, and you can count on me to fight for one.