Monday, January 03, 2005

Socked in the Breadbasket 

Another stunning milestone for the Bush administration to celebrate! After hearing the good news on Harry Shearer's Le Show, Moe Blues of Bad Attitudes tracked down the hitherto obscure details in an article that appeared, with no fanfare, almost a month ago:
According to U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service estimates released that day, 2005 will be the first year in nearly 50 that America will not turn an agricultural trade surplus . . . .

Now, as America is about to become a net food importer for the first time in generations, [Secretary of Agriculture Ann] Veneman has no explanation of how Bush Administration economic and trade policies have taken American agriculture from a $13.6 billion trade surplus in 2001 to a flat line in four short years . . . .

Ironically, the very thing farmers have been told for years would be their savior, a cheaper dollar, is worsening the ag trade balance. Despite the dollar now falling to new lows against most of the world's major currencies, 2005 ag exports will be $6.3 billion less than in 2004.

Simultaneously, the fast-cracking dollar has not slowed more expensive imports. Indeed, says ERS, the 2005 "import volume (will be) unchanged," but "their higher prices will continue to push the total U.S. import bill up" . . . .

Imagine the flood to hit when the World Trade Organization kicks the American door open even more.
Moe predicts that American agriculture may soon be as dead as American manufacturing: "[L]ook for Republicans to begin blaming greedy small farmers for the problem. Pay no attention to those agribusiness giants like ADM, Cargill, and Bunge that have been buying below-market commodities in South America to sell here."

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