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May 5, 2011 - 3:17pm

Candidates' Questions: Trade and Agriculture

posted by Howard B. Owens in Jack Davis, NY-26, Jane Corwin, kathy hochul, Ian Murphy.

In our ongoing effort to ask candidates questions of substance on issues that matter, we turn our attention this week to trade and agriculture.

All four candidates in the NY-26 special election to replace Shirtless Chris Lee on May 24 where asked the same exact questions.

We received responses from Jack Davis and Kathy Hochul. Ian Murphy apologizes for missing the deadline and will have his responses in later today.

As for Jane Corwin -- we've heard not a peep from her campaign. I've left messages and sent multiple e-mails today seeking a response and Matthew Harakal, her communications director, hasn't acknowledged the messages.

If Corwin replies later, we'll update the post with her answers.

UPDATE 5:50 p.m.: We received an e-mail from Matthew Harakal that he sent about an hour ago. He apologized for not responding to messages today.  He said he was away from the office all day.  He said answers will be forthcoming tomorrow. We'll add the answers to this post once received.

UPDATE: Ian Murphy's answers added below.

As previously, the questions we asked are below and the candidate answers, in the order received, cut and pasted verbatim after the jump.

What is your position on NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement)?

The next representative of the NY-26 is likely going to be asked on vote on the South Korea – United States Free Trade Agreement. If elected, will you vote “Yes” or “No.”

After offering a straight up or down answer, please explain your yes or no vote.

The U.S. has a $252 billion trade deficit with China, the largest between any two countries in the world. Does this concern you and as a congressional representative would you do anything to address it?

Would New York’s farmers find your immigration policy beneficial or harmful to their businesses?

What policy changes need to occur that you would favor in support of New York’s dairy farmers?

What policies, if any, do you favor to assist family farmers selling their products in local markets?

 

Jack Davis:

What is your position on NAFTA?

I am against it. NAFTA has been a disaster for Western New York, the United States and working Americans who have seen their jobs disappear in a “giant sucking sound” and their wages depressed in a race to the bottom. We need to get out of NAFTA.

The next representative of the NY-26 is likely going to be asked on vote on the South Korea – United States Free Trade Agreement. If elected, will you vote “Yes” or “No.”

Both President Obama and the Washington Republican insiders are pushing this deal which is the next NAFTA. I will vote NO. 

After offering a straight up or down answer, please explain your yes or no vote.

The Korea Free Trade Agreement would export as many as 159,000 more American jobs. It would also surrender American sovereignty to international organizations, and make “Buy American” initiatives illegal.  This is unacceptable.

The U.S. has a $252 billion trade deficit with China, the largest between any two countries in the world.  Does this concern you and as a congressional representative would you do anything to address it?

Communist China is our enemy. They’re predatory trade practices target American industries for extinction. We must use trade-balancing tariffs to level the playing field for American farms and businesses and counter the unfair advantage the Chinese government is giving its domestic industries through currency manipulation and direct subsidies.

Would New York’s farmers find your immigration policy beneficial or harmful to their businesses?

Farmers would benefit from a reliable supply of legal labor.

What policy changes need to occur that you would favor in support of New York’s dairy farmers?

We must end the uncontrolled import of MPCs (milk protein concentrates) which depress the price of fluid milk and allow processors to bypass our local dairy farmers for the production of cheese and other dairy products.

What policies, if any, do you favor to assist family farmers selling their products in local markets?

We need to place limits on imports of foreign agriculture products that drive down commodity prices for our local growers. In addition, “Buy local” provisions in government procurement of food is an important tool to help local agriculture compete for markets and to develop our local economies.  In addition, local growers should have access to credit so they can invest in facilities to add value to what they grow. There is a growing “local food” movement and with the largest markets in the US within a one-day drive, our growers are in a great position to take advantage of this. 

Kathy Hochul:

Q: What is your position on NAFTA?

A: I do not support NAFTA. All we have to do is look to Western New York to see that trade policies, like NAFTA, do not work. In this state alone, NAFTA has cost New Yorkers more than 51,000 jobs. As a Member of Congress, I will oppose any trade policy that gives corporations and manufacturers the incentives to ship Western New York jobs overseas.    

Q: The next representative of the NY-26 is likely going to be asked on vote on the South Korea – United States Free Trade Agreement. If elected, will you vote “Yes” or “No.” After offering a straight up or down answer, please explain your yes or no vote.

A: No, I do not support the U.S.-South Korea Free Trade Agreement. I also do not support the U.S.-Panama or the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreements. 

Millions of hard-working Americans have lost their jobs due to unfair trade deals like NAFTA and CAFTA and entering into additional free trade agreements will only further harm our economy. Instead of expanding trade policies that have resulted in thousands of good paying Western New York jobs being sent overseas, we need to focus on creating an environment that gives smalls businesses the opportunity to innovate and grow, right here in the 26th District.

Q: The U.S. has a $252 billion trade deficit with China, the largest between any two countries in the world. Does this concern you and as a congressional representative would you do anything to address it?

A: I am absolutely concerned with America’s growing trade deficit with China and addressing the trade deficit begins with taking action against the Chinese government’s continued currency manipulation. Last  year, I was glad to see the House take steps to crack down on China's currency manipulation, by passing the Currency Reform for Fair Trade Act. As a Member of Congress, I would support steps like this to reduce our trade deficit and get our economy back on track.

Q: Would New York’s farmers find your immigration policy beneficial or harmful to their businesses?

A: Our immigration system is broken – no question. Farmers here in Western New York need the workforce necessary to sustain their land.  Once  elected to Congress, I will follow the advice of the farmers here in the 26th District and do what’s right for them, including expanding access to the H-2A Visa, which allows immigrants to travel here legally for temporary work in agriculture. While our focus must be getting Western New Yorkers back to work, we must provide our farmers with an adequate workforce if Americans are not willing to take these jobs. 

Q: What policy changes need to occur that you would favor in support of New York’s dairy farmers?

A:  We need to make dairy pricing measures more competitive and make it more profitable for farmers to stay in the dairy farming business. It is crucial that we include competitive pricing, not parity pricing, in the next Agriculture bill so that our dairy farmers can continue to sustain their farms and put food on their tables.

Q: What policies, if any, do you favor to assist family farmers selling their products in local markets?

A: When I visited McCormick Farm in North Java (Wyoming County) just a few weeks ago, I learned how they make their own maple syrup and sell it locally to different markets and restaurants in the region. We need to support these local farms and provide more avenues of support, like promoting farmers markets, which allow many of these products to be sold locally.   

Ian Murphy:

What is your position on NAFTA?

NAFTA is a scam. A factory in Texas moves 5 miles south, for cheap labor, and when that factory ships its widgets back north, it's called “free trade.” It's lowered America's living standard, for the profit of the CEOs.

The next representative of the NY-26 is likely going to be asked on vote on the South Korea – United States Free Trade Agreement. If elected, will you vote “Yes” or “No.”

No.

After offering a straight up or down answer, please explain your yes or no vote.

Absolutely not. If American labor doesn't like it, I don't like it. It's not “free trade” at all.

The U.S. has a $252 billion trade deficit with China, the largest between any two countries in the world.  Does this concern you and as a congressional representative would you do anything to address it?

Well, it's hard to match price with peasants working for pennies. See: Wal-Mart. This is the problem with globalization, generally. A corporation's board of directors are legally obligated to maximize profits for their shareholders. They will always relocate, if the nature of their business allows, to wherever labor is cheapest. The traditional solution to this problem is to impose a trade tariff. If Wal-Mart wants to outsource it's labor to prisoners and children in China, it has to pay the US people for the right to cut them out of the wage equation.

“But then my tube socks will cost $2 instead of $1!” might be the response to that. Well, you spend the collected tariff on infrastructure and job creation. Suddenly, people can afford $2 socks, and nearly extinct mom & pop shops can compete again—putting more money into people's hands.

Also, the Chinese yuan's value isn't determined by supply and demand. They keep its value artificially low by trading their currency on the foreign exchange markets. Real pressure needs to be applied by the world community for them to peg the yuan to a basket of world currencies.

Would New York’s farmers find your immigration policy beneficial or harmful to their businesses?

This country is nothing but immigrants. Immigrants built this country. And people should still have the opportunity to come here, work hard and make a life. Farmers would find this beneficial.

What policy changes need to occur that you would favor in support of New York’s dairy farmers?

I milked cows professionally, so I know small dairy farmers work damn hard, for not enough money. They get priced out by the huge factory farms, which make it next to impossible to compete, and stress their animals to the point of infection and death—often providing us with puss-filled milk. 

We need to start building policy in terms of what is sustainable, rather than what makes the most short term profit, for the fewest and biggest stakeholders. What that would mean functionally is that we need to make sustainability profitable.

What policies, if any, do you favor to assist family farmers selling their products in local markets?

In this case, gradual market forces will invariably make locally produced goods more feasible and competitive in the future. Energy costs from traditional carbon-rich sources will keep increasing, and it will make pure economic sense for markets to buy local. That said, any potential emergency measures to keep family farmers from going broke should be taken.

The dictum is that “all politics is local.” Economics is also local to a large extent—believe it or not, in this age of “globalization.” What benefit does the American taxpayer see from giving tax breaks (or not taxing at all) huge multinationals? We get cheap junk made by slaves. We get cheap produce picked by the extremely poor. And it doesn't matter all that much because our jobs went overseas, so we can't afford even the cheapest of junk.

What we have both agriculturally and industrially is a battle between the giant conglomerates, with their cheap labor and economies of scale, versus small businesses and family operations who pay Americans a decent wage. I'll side with small, locally owned businesses every time. That's economics for the people, not the CEOs and crooks on Wall Street.

Jane Corwin's response (received May 7, 9 p.m.)

What is your position on NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement)?

I am a believer in the free markets and free trade but it must also be fair trade. American workers can compete with anyone in the world, but free trade has to be fair. Some of our trading partners – noticeably China – have engaged in unfair trading practices and have been manipulating their currencies to gain an unfair advantage, and if I was in Congress I would support steps to address this problem and not continue to ignore it, which the Obama Administration has done. 

The next representative of the NY-26 is likely going to be asked on vote on the South Korea – United States Free Trade Agreement. If elected, will you vote “Yes” or “No.”

After offering a straight up or down answer, please explain your yes or no vote.

Legislation can change considerably before it comes up for a vote, but Congress should work towards removing tariffs standing in the way of American job creation. Just last month the International Trade Commission released a report which said that U.S. auto industry’s exports – including those from GM, which has facilities right here in Western New York – would “increase significantly” if the South Korea FTA were to be implemented. This is a sign of the type of job creation that can come from free trade agreements.

But again, we need to ensure that any trade agreement is implemented fairly and that American manufacturers can compete on a level playing field with their foreign competitors.    

The U.S. has a $252 billion trade deficit with China, the largest between any two countries in the world. Does this concern you and as a congressional representative would you do anything to address it?

It’s absolutely concerning and it’s one of the reasons I would support efforts to address China’s currency manipulation practices. A broad range of economists believe the Chinese yuan may be undervalued by as much as 40%. The practical impact of China intentionally lowering its currency's value is to make its goods and services cheap internationally.

Addressing China’s currency manipulation is one of the most effective ways we can address our trade imbalance with China. 

Would New York’s farmers find your immigration policy beneficial or harmful to their businesses?

I’ve been a vocal advocate for Western New York’s agricultural community in the State Assembly and would continue to be in Washington. Agriculture is our state’s leading industry and a key economic driver for our region, and I’ve visited numerous farms of all sizes across the district. I have a keen understanding of the issues they face – including labor concerns – and would work closely with our agricultural community to ensure they have the resources they need.

What policy changes need to occur that you would favor in support of New York’s dairy farmers?
 
New York is among the leaders in dairy production, generating billions of dollars annually. Wyoming County is the state’s leading county for dairy production. Unfortunately, the economic crisis has had a significant impact on the dairy industry.

I’ve met with several dairy farmers across the district to learn directly from them what needs to be done to strengthen the industry. If elected to Congress, I would join the Dairy Farmers Caucus to ensure that Dairy Farmers are being treated fairly and be able to directly advocate on their behalf.

Congress needs to closely examine the process used for setting milk prices, specifically the Federal Milk Marketing Order. The Federal Order system must be more responsive to changes in cost of production and market forces, and if elected to Congress I would work towards implementing these changes.

What policies, if any, do you favor to assist family farmers selling their products in local markets?

Family farms can only sell their goods where consumers will purchase them. I’ve visited several Western New York farms and some sell their products directly at the farm, and it doesn’t get anymore seller to consumer than that.

Ed Gentner
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Jack Davis has been the most consistant candidate speaking out on the subjects of trade and agriculture policy for the past two decades. He was far ahead of the curve in his predictions on what the effect of NAFTA and CAFTA would have on American industry and the loss of jobs associated with both. Jack Davis has proposed well thought out solutions to corect the roblems of job loss and trade alance inequities. Neither the Democrats or Republicans have done much more than wring their hands and pay lip service to the problems, Jack Davis has been speaking out for decades when the two major parties and their candidates have largely remainded silent once elected. It's time to change that by sending Jack Davis to Washington with the amplified voice that comes with seat in the House of Representitives. Jack Davis recognizes the importance of agriculture in our district and has a track record on speaking out on those issues that directly effect agriculture in the district and the long term need for an agriculture policy that addresses both the need for a legal labor force and market driven supports for local producers. Democrat Kathy Hochul's response strikes me as more of the same that we have heard from Democrats before the election only to have it go back to business asl usual. How long has Kathy Hochul been speaking out on trade and agriculture policies that directly effect this district? How long after this election will Kathy Hochul remain focused on the issues regardless of the outcome? Who has a long standing track record on the issues? Jane Corwin the Republican is waiting for John Boehner and Paul Ryan to tell her what to say and what she thinks on these issues, just like she was told what to say about supporting the Ryan budget paln to replace medicare with a voucher leaving seniors at the mercy of the private insurance industry and gutting medicaid which in turn will cost New York dearly. That, and she has been so busy as an Albany insider collecting donations and taking care not to offend her list of patrons that include all sorts of special interest lobbying groups that have bought her votes.
George Richardson
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"Jane Corwin the Republican is waiting for John Boohooner", note the corrected correct spelling Billie. I think Jack might pull it off with a few well placed barbs from Ian Murphy: "The Decider and Game Changer in NY26." All the other Networks are on standby to watch him get arrested for answering the debate questions through a bullhorn stuck in a doorway. I'm counting on the F-Bomb about twenty times too! I know he won't let America down, I just know it like my trust in Lassie.
Mark Janofsky
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We waited 3 days for that? These answers are worse than her answers on the economy. Can someone please tell me why (besides the face he not a multimillionaire) Bellavia wasn't nominated?
Brandon Burger
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"Family Farms can only sell their goods where consumers will purchase them." This is the variety of wisdom that Jane Corwin offers; it is the special insight that only comes with an MBA, time spent on Wall Street , and thirty-some years of business experience. Wow.
Dave Olsen
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LOL Brandon, don't forget that if we pass the Korean trade Agreement, Koreans will buy American cars. Good luck with that! Better for Americans to keep more of their own money and farmers to make a decent living, we know they'll buy American trucks and cars.
Billie Owens
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George, you are a hoooot!
C. M. Barons
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Corwin's agricultural research:

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