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House Vote on CAFTA a Profound Disappointment to ICON

Hyannis, NE ~ The Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska fear that US sovereignty
is forfeited by the recent passage of the Central American-Dominican Republic
Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR). The trade act was narrowly passed by the U.S. House
of Representatives on July 27th by a vote 217-215.

All three members of Nebraska's House delegation supported
the agreement despite intense opposition to CAFTA by Nebraska ranchers,
farmers, and other agricultural groups. ICON President Chris Abbott of Gordon,
was in Washington, DC for the vote, having spent the previous three days
on Capitol Hill, lobbying House members to vote against the trade agreement.

"The passage of CAFTA will accelerate the concentration of our Nation's
wealth into the hands of just a few," noted Abbott. "CAFTA has no safeguards
or strong protections for workers’ rights. CAFTA gives multi-national
companies a distinct advantage over domestic producers by shutting down
plants in the US and moving those operations to countries with cheap
labor. CAFTA is the wrong model for moving toward a fair trade environment
among nations."

"The House leadership held the vote in the middle of the night, and
violated their own rules by keeping the vote open for an hour while
deals were made to garner votes. It was extremely disappointing to witness
the politics involved in this process," said Abbott. "House members ignored
the will of the people and I predict there will be consequences. Had the
Nebraska delegation voted “No” on CAFTA, the agreement would have been sent
back to the drawing board. That's how close the vote was."

In other cattle-producing states, Congressmen voting against CAFTA were:
Cubin (WY), Herseth (SD), Pomeroy (ND), Rehberg (MT), Salazar (CO), Udall
(CO), DeGette (CO), Tancredo (CO), Simpson (ID), and Otter (ID).

"In the end, CAFTA could not stand on its merits. As a result, the House
leadership resorted to twisting arms and political deals to force through a
trade agreement that 90% of the American population does not support. ICON
supports fair trade agreements that put America's farmers, ranchers,
and workers first. CAFTA, like NAFTA, does not," commented Abbott.

"CAFTA procurement rules prohibit all laws giving preference to domestic or
local businesses," according to U.S. Rep. Charlie Norwood. CAFTA Article 9
overturns every state and federal law that requires government agencies to
buy American products or use American workforces. "CAFTA would immediately
overturn all the hard work our state legislatures have done to support
local businesses and jobs," said Norwood. "It would overrule all state and
federal law on the issue, effectively destroying our sovereignty, and would
block any action by the voters to correct this outrage."

Abbott worries about the long-term ramifications of CAFTA. "Serious sovereignty
rights were forfeited when CAFTA was passed. We've handed our sovereignty to judges
from Central America," said Abbott. “Is that what the American people want?"

"The way this agreement is written undermines the ability of US cattlemen to compete
in today's marketplace because it doesn't allow us to differentiate our product from foreign imports,"
said Abbott. "If our competitors in Central America can produce cattle for one-third of our cost,
then the only way we're going to be able to survive is through the
introduction of Country of Origin Labeling (COOL). Big business and
other cattle organizations have blocked that law by deleting funding for
mandatory COOL." Abbott continued. "The grass roots cattleman supports
COOL, despite what national organizations say, and our representatives need
to recognize that there is a disconnect between what their members want and
what their leadership says they want."

"While we are profoundly disappointed in the final outcome
on CAFTA, I believe that we have made significant progress in moving the
cause of Nebraska's independent producers forward."