A quiet shot across the unbuilt wall was fired Monday from Mexico City when Senator Armando Rios Piter said he would introduce a bill that would end the purchase of corn from the US. This is in response to some of the suggestions from the current administration to stop the trade imbalance between the two countries.
NAFTA is a dirty word among many folks, especially labor. However, Iowa’s corn farmers saw a huge boon when NAFTA went into effect. NAFTA opened up a huge market for their corn in Mexico. What most people forget or maybe never knew was that when NAFTA ended the barriers to exporting corn to Mexico, Mexican farmers were greatly affected. Few farmers could compete with the cheap and hybridized corn from the US. Having lost their means of income in their home country, for many of them the only answer was to go to the US to look for work.
So while NAFTA was a boon for Iowa farmers, opening markets that were hard to get into before, it was a disaster for Mexican farmers. Here is a snippet of a story from a couple of years ago that illustrates the plight of the Mexican farm community:
When the North American Free Trade Agreement went into effect in 1994, it removed nearly all corporate trade barriers between the United States and Mexico. Among the industries affected was agriculture, forcing small Mexican farmers into direct competition with big American agribusiness. Cheap American corn — heavily subsidized, mechanized, and oh, yes, genetically modified — soon flooded the Mexican market, undercutting local farmers’ prices.
In the last eighteen years, the share of American corn in Mexico has jumped at least 500 percent. And just as millions of industrial workers in the United States lost their jobs in the free-trade outsourcing bonanza, rural Mexicans suffered a parallel fate. Even by cautious estimates, NAFTA is directly responsible for the loss of two million farm jobs in Mexico.
One of those farmers was Luis Moreno, Carla’s brother.
“How could he compete with something like Cargill?” Carla asked, speaking the name of the U.S. agricultural giant like it was a mythical dragon.
“He couldn’t, but he still had a wife and three kids,” Carla continued. “So Luis left to find work. First to Mexico City. Then to Kansas City. He’s been there for nine years now, cleaning office buildings. His kids only know him on the phone.”
It is also easy to see that the displaced Mexican farmer was integral to the wave of persons immigrating to the US illegally. When farmers could no longer make a living in their own country they had to do something. That something was to go to where to where the money was.
Immigration was an unplanned for side effect of NAFTA. Iowa farmers had a major new market for their corn.
Agriculture.com sums up the effects of the potential boycott of American corn by Mexico:
To date, Mexico is the No. 1 buyer of U.S. corn. For the marketing year September 1 through February 13, 2017, Mexico has bought 25% of the total U.S. corn sales. The next biggest buyer is Japan at 16% of the total.
Jason Ward, director of grains and energy for Northstar Commodity Investment Co., says the trade spat could impact both future and past sales.
“If all future sales get shut off to Mexico, it would be a significant negative to the marketplace for corn, and would easily overflow into other commodities, including pork and dairy,” Ward says.
To this point, in bushels, Mexico has bought 411.4 million bushels of corn from the U.S. this marketing year. Of that total, 197.6 million bushels have been shipped, “so we are talking about future sales and potentially unshipped sales that we have on the books, but haven’t arrived in Mexico yet,” Ward says.
However they do note that since commodities like corn are traded world wide, if Mexico shifts to new suppliers, then other current customers of the suppliers that would now service Mexico suppliers may need to find other suppliers. That is the US may pick some business from those customers.
What the current administration has done with its fist shaking and tough talk with our neighbor to the south is to start some cracks in a wall of trade that may well be the start of the destruction. So far all that has happened is to have an initial shot fired by the US and a return of fire from Mexico. That may be the end of it. Or these may be the first shots in what will become an all out trade war.
With an administration that has little experience in international relations and little skill in negations outside of making demands I fear Iowa farmers may see this little skirmish blow up with those farmers as one of the major victims.
I write this just after learning that the Iowa legislature has set the state back about a century as they strip public unions of almost all rights they have in the workplace.
Republicans have their usual BS reasons why it was such a great bill – efficiency, blah, blah, saves money, blah, blah. All of these reasons have been refuted by economists. Iowans called en masse to oppose this bill. But all that means little to nothing to Republicans. They don’t have the 2 million or so Iowa voters to answer to. Nope, they answer to Charles and David Koch and the other members of ALEC.
In what had to be one of the oddest scenes in a whole strange week. Republican legislators went behind closed doors to get a pep talk from Wisconsin’s big union buster and puppet of the Koch Brothers, Scott Walker. This is time that could have been used listening to constituents. I jest of course. They don’t care about constituents. They care about Koch Brother’s money.
Rick Smith at the Iowa Daily Democrat has a great story that lists some of the major donors to Iowa Republicans through a Koch operation. For Republicans these are the people they work for.
Nor do they worry about being re-elected. The next order of business will be to restrict voting. I suspect they will really clamp down on student voting and make it much harder to vote absentee.
Busting the unions will most likely have a very deleterious effect on Iowa’s economy as pointed out in this study by Peter Fisher of the Iowa Policy Project.
Will businesses worry about the loss of business due to the cuts Iowa’s public sector workers will suffer? Well, then it is time for more tax cuts! Sadly these tax cuts may not do a lot of good for small businesses in small town Iowa but then someone has to take one for the team and I guess you were chosen.
And for an extra kick in the teeth, expect congressional Republicans to repeal and not replace the ACA. They have a promise of huge tax cuts for the wealthy and that is one promise they will most likely keep. Without the ACA the cost of health insurance will go up across the board to cover the cost of care for those who are no longer able to get insurance after the ACA is repealed.
So the state workers will get increasingly lousier insurance to “save money.” (remember those tax cuts? That was money.) Therefore the burden of higher copays and deductibles will fall back on union workers who will have no power to bargain.
Since this affects about 15% of Iowa workers, expect it to make a noticeable dent in our economy., especially in the small towns Iowa Republicans claim to love so much.
I frequently heard this fall how union members in Iowa were turning out for Republicans because they were going to shake things up. Well they did, didn’t they? Republicans never really told you what they were going to do.
However, if you are a working person and a union member you should have learned by now to always ask yourself when a Republican says he or she is going to help you out – Just exactly when has a Republican ever helped a working person out? I can’t remember a time, but then I have only been around about seven decades.
Iowa Republicans will probably get a special mention at the summer ALEC meeting in Denver next July 19th – 21st.
Perhaps the worst part of all this is that reversing insanity like this is not as simple as just voting for Democrats. Besides a massive turn in the legislature we also need a new progressive governor. Those have been a rarity in Iowa. Remember, voting will soon be different also. In power grabs like this, one of the most important things to do is to stack the deck in favor of your side.
So sad to see this happen to what was once a wonderful state full of wonderful and thoughtful people.
Certainly You have some questions for them
Iowa Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst have town halls scheduled in Iowa next week. This may be one of the best ways to get questions directly to one of 100 people that run our country.
Tuesday, Feb. 21 1:30 PM
Maquoketa City Hall
201 east Pleasant Street
Tuesday Feb. 21 7:45 – 8:45 AM
Iowa Falls Fire Dep’t
218 South River St.
Tuesday Feb. 21 2:15 – 3:15 PM
Hancock County Courthouse
855 State Street
Thursday Feb. 24 10 – 11 AM
Floyd County Courthouse
101 South Main
Friday Feb. 24 8 – 9 AM
Parkersburg Civic Center
502 3rd Street
The vote by the Iowa House and Senate has been taken, and the Governor has signed it. We can’t let up on these elected representative. They need to hear from you how you feel about their vote on this issue, and the many other attacks they are planning on Iowa working families.
Please attend as many of these forums as you can. Bring friends!
We are also asking every one to call the Governors office and let them know how your feel about this blatant attack on Iowa Working Familes. 515-281-5211
Saturday February 18 – 10 AM.
ALtoona HyVee Club Room. 108 8th st SW, Altoona
Saturday February 18: 9 AM
Legislative Forum McOtto’s, 100 Chamber Dr, Anamosa
February 18, 9:00 AM
Arlington Community Center 853 Main St, Arlington
February 18, 8:00 Am
Ericson Public Library, 2nd Floor702 Greene St, Boone
State Representative Gary Mohr Constituent Meetings:
Every Friday 9AM at the Hyvee, 2900 Devils Glen Road, Bettendorf, IA
Saturday, February 18: 9:30 AM
Legislative Forum at Burlington Library: 210 Court Street
CEDAR RAPIDS (Priority)
Saturday, February 18: 10:30 a.m.-11:45 a.m.
Legislative Forum with Linn County Area Legislators at Mercy Medical Center in the Hallagan Ed Center, 701 10th Street SE.
Saturday, February 18: 12:00 – 1:00 PM
United Labor Alliance Legislative Luncheons at Carpenters Local 308, 305 Waconia Court, SW, Cedar Rapids, IA
February 23: 10:00 AM
Floyd County Courthouse 101 S Main St, Charles City
Saturday, February 18: 8 a.m.-9 a.m.
Legislative Coffee at The Depot
February 18: 11:15 AM
Decorah City Hall, 400 Clairborne Dr. Decorah
DES MOINES (Priority)
February 19: 2PM
Des Moines Public Library, 1000 Grand Ave, Des Moines
February 20: 8 AM
Grounds for Celebration 2645 Beaver Ave, Des Moines
Saturday February 18 – 7:30 AM
Fairfield Public Library, 104 W Adams Ave, Fairfield
February 18, 10am – 12pm
Where Elderbridge Agency On Aging, 308 Central Ave, Fort Dodge
February 21: 2:15 PM
Hancock County Courthouse, 855 State St, Garner
February 18, 9:00 AM
Glenwood City Hall, 5 North Vine st. Glenwood
February 18: 10:00 AM
Nishnabotna Valley REC 1317 Chatburn, Harlan
February 21: 7:45
Iowa Falls Fire Department, 218 South River St. Iowa Falls
February 18, 9:00 AM
City Hall 227 Main st, Janesville
Saturday March 18: 9 AM
Legislative Forum. Newton HyVee Club Room, 1501 First Ave E, Newton
February 18: 8 AM
Northwood City Hall, 627 Central Ave. Northwood
February 18: 11:30 AM
Pearson Lakes Art Center
February 18, 7:00 AM
Red Oak YMCA, 101 Cherry St, Red Oak
February 18: 1 PM
Keokuk County Courthouse, 101 S Main St. Sigourney
Saturday, February 18: 9 a.m.-10:30 a.m.
Eggs & Issues at Spencer City Hall in the Council Chamber, 418 2nd Ave W.
Saturday February 18 : 9AM
King’s Pointe Banquet Room 1520 E Lakeshore Dr. Storm Lake
February 18: 11:00 AM
Tripoli Library, 101 4th Ave SW, Tripoli
Saturday February 18: 10 AM
Legislative Forum- Washington City Hall 215 E Washington St, Washington IA
February 18, 9:15
West Burlington City Hall, 122 Broadway St, West Burlington
Click on the link below to see all upcoming events for the month of February.
Action alert from Bold Iowa –
WHAT: Bold Action Teams (BATs) will mobilize for direct action across Iowa, targeting officials and businesses that have aided and abetted construction of the Dakota Access pipeline.
WHEN: Wednesday, February 22 during “business” hours. Commit for the entire day or for a minimum of 3 hours.
WHERE: In or near your community, at a government office, bank or other place that has supported construction of the pipeline. We’ll have a comprehensive list of targets available shortly before February 22.
WHY: The Dakota Access pipeline isn’t finished. Politicians, public officials and businesses who’ve supported it need to hear that the pipeline is wrong for Iowa and wrong for our planet. Because when we do nothing, when we crawl into our solitude, the forces of greed and injustice win.
* Take Wednesday, February 22 off from work (yes, I know not everyone can, but if you can, it’s important).
* Sign-up for a BAT — we’ll help connect you with folks in your area.
* Meet with your BAT of 5-10 people over coffee on the 22nd to study the message, discuss the code of nonviolence and plan details for the action(s).
* Invite local press to meet your team and travel with you to the action.
* Each team will be led by an experienced leader, someone well-versed in non-violence and capable of effectively directing the action.
ACTION: BATs will occupy the targeted space and read statements, press releases, articles and other material explaining why this pipeline is wrong. One or two members of each BAT will take photos and video. BATs either stay until arrested or until security threatens to arrest them. If BATs choose not to risk arrest, they then either disperse or travel to another site for a second action.
FOLLOW-UP: We’ll have a “hotline” — a BAT-line! — for teams to send photos, video and a brief summary immediately after the action.
Let’s make this big! We need 100 BATs. Sign up here to participate, and include a message indicating your preferred role(s) (i.e., team leader, risk arrest, spokesperson, photographer, videographer, driver).
Onward, through the gauntlet and beyond! – Ed Fallon
…because they didn’t write it… and apparently, haven’t read it.
Need more proof #ALEC #KochBros #AFP wrote the bill to gut collective bargaining behind closed doors without input from Iowans? Watch this. The Republican Chair of the Labor Committee can’t answer basic questions and doesn’t even have a copy of the bill. #ialegis #saveIAworkers
Need more proof #ALEC #KochBros #AFP wrote the bill to gut collective bargaining behind closed doors without input from Iowans? Watch this. The Republican Chair of the Labor Committee can't answer basic questions and doesn't even have a copy of the bill. #ialegis #saveIAworkers
Posted by Iowa House Democrats on Wednesday, February 15, 2017
Daily Action – My favorite activist tool
I signed up a few weeks ago to make daily phone calls to Congress (and other officials) as part of the Resistance. I am using a tool called Daily Action. https://dailyaction.org/
Every week day you will get a text about the daily call, with a phone number to call for talking points. You enter your zip code and will be connected to your Senator’s or Representative’s Washington office. You go through it twice to reach the other Senator, but it is still quick. If the Washington office is busy, I call the local offices (I have their phone numbers in my favorites).
The first week’s calls included:
- calling for the resignation of Steve Bannon from the White House and National Security Council
- calling Customs and Border Protection (I got connected to Phoenix) to see if they are complying with U.S. laws – or with Trump
- opposing Jay Clayton as chair of the SEC
- against defunding Planned Parenthood
The next week included calls to oppose various Trump cabinet nominees, save the EPA, and to investigate Kellyanne Conway for advertising Ivanka’s product line.
You can read more at their website. I signed up there. But you can also text the word DAILY to the number 228466 (A-C-T-I-O-N). You’ll be prompted to enter your zip code and that’s it – you’re signed up.
Now I just wish we had the same tool for Iowa state and local level actions! Can someone develop that?
SHARE this video and visit saveiowaworkers.com to TAKE ACTION.
Senator Nate Boulton kicks off Monday's rally at the Iowa Statehouse.SHARE this video and visit saveiowaworkers.com to TAKE ACTION.
Posted by Iowa Senate Democrats on Monday, February 13, 2017
Our Senators are planning to hold several Town Hall events over the next two weeks. See Ernst and Grassley schedules below.
The Indivisible Field Team is working with groups and organizing across Iowa.
Indivisible Iowa is also organizing into Iowa state senate and house districts throughout Iowa in closed FB groups.
Click on the link below if you want to join Indivisible Iowa on Facebook.
- Friday 2/17 at 11:30am CST in Corydon, at Betty’s Cafe (101 South Lafayette St)
- Tuesday 2/21 at 1:30pm CST in Maquoketa at the Maquoketa City Hall (201 East Pleasant Street)
- Tuesday 2/21 at 7:45am CST in Iowa Falls at the Iowa Falls Fire Department (218 South River Street)
- Tuesday 2/21 at 2:15pm CST in Garner at the Hancock County Courthouse (855 State Street)
- Thursday 2/23 at 10am CST in Charles City at the Floyd County Courthouse (101 South Main Street)
- Friday 2/24 at 8am in Parkersburg at the Parkersburg Civic Center (502 3rd Street)
If you plan to attend a Town Hall, register your Indivisible Action on our website and take the lead in getting your group to turn out for the event. Registering your action on our website will help other folks in the area connect with you and get involved — growing your voice and impact. We are stronger when we stand indivisible.
If this is your first time attending a Town Hall event, check out our Town Hall Tips for more information about how your group can best leverage the Town Hall to make your voices heard. It would also be a good idea to confirm the time and location of the Town Hall by calling your MoC’s district office.
**Important note from BFIA**
You can join Indivisible Iowa in your House and Senate District.
There is a list here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/370033640032251/permalink/387999414902340/