Utah farm leaders have joined with top farmers from across the nation in supporting the U.S. position of retaliation against European Community's ban of U.S. meat products because of minor amounts of growth hormones.
The ban was a leading topic of discussion for more than 80 Utah farmers who, along with 5,000 farm leaders from across the United States, ended a four-day annual American Farm Bureau Convention in San Antonio Thursday, said Vic Saunders, Utah Farm Bureau vice president of communications.Farm experts say the Jan. 1 European ban on American meat products, including hearts, tongues and other cattle parts that have been in demand by Europeans, could cost this country $100 million in meat exports. Economists says the ban could also trigger a trade war.
American Farm Bureau president Dean Kleckner told Utahns at the convention that the ban is a disguise for a bigger problem. "There is no scientific evidence to support the ban on either side of the Atlantic Ocean and the real issue is trade protectionism by European Community nations."
Kleckner said the United States has tried repeatedly to get the hormone issue placed before a world scientific panel for public decision on the human health problem. "Europeans have consistently blocked the use of such a panel because they know it would discredit their case," he said.
The Farm Bureau chief said the hormone issue is diversionary because the amounts used are minor compared to the amounts of the same hormone produced naturally.
"The truth is, the Europeans have a surplus of home-grown red meat and they want to get rid of it."
Utah Farm Bureau president Ken Ashby, Delta, said the whole issue has nothing to do with the quality of American beef because "the use of these growth hormones is perfectly safe. This is just another attempt by Europeans to abrogate the existing trade agreements we have with them."
Darrell Kunzler, a cattleman from Benson, Cache County, said U.S. retaliation "is the only way to get the attention of the European traders. Our beef is totally safe to eat and for Europeans to say otherwise just isn't true or right."
Orem dairyman Robert Holdaway said he hates to see America in a trade war with the Europeans. "I believe free and fair trade is the best way for everyone to go. But when our back is against the wall, we have to take action. America should fight back with whatever measures our trade negotiators believe will best serve our interests."
Utah farm leaders also joined with the other U.S. farmers in saying they want no tax increases this year, a balanced budget and continued support of the 1985 Farm Bill.
The Utah Farm Bureau won more honors at the convention than any of the other 44 state farm bureaus, winning first place awards for its commodity activities, Young Farmers and Ranchers activities, public information, state and local government affairs, natural and environmental resources efforts, safety, Agriculture in the Classroom and national affairs.
The Utah organization placed second place in marketing, political education, policy development, rural health and group purchasing programs.