[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

#698: Agriculture and Industry: Smith replies to Dailey, et al. (fwd)

From: Merrill Smith <advocacy@bellatlantic.net>

> From: PETER DAILEY <HOLMES11@prodigy.net>
> I stated as well that various
> measures designed to help the Haitian farmer cope had
> been approved but never implemented.
> Guy asks what these measures were. My impression is
> that aside from technical assistance they primarily made
> credit available for mechanization, repair of irrigation
> canals, purchase of fertilizer, construction of storage
> facilities, etc. I'm sure Merrill Smith knows the answer.

Peter has a flattering estimation of my command of the literature (and
that's what most of it is at this point) on aid to Haiti's agricultural
sector. I, frankly, don't know the details but I would venture that,
aside from soil erosion/exhaustion and population pressure on the land,
the major problem facing Haitian agriculture is lack of secure land
tenure and the lack of credit that entails. Préval has taken some small
steps toward land reform but, unfortunately, this has been limited to
granting _leases_ on state land. This misses the larger boat. What
farmers need is secure _title_ to the land. That would be the most
effective source of interest in promoting conservation techniques and
capital improvements to the land and of collateral for credit to make
this possible. Mere leases do not accomplish either of these objectives. 

But when it comes to aiding Haitian peasants I think perhaps we should
be asking a more fundamental question. I remember sitting next to a
Dutch agronomist on a plane to Haiti. He was returning to a project near
Arcahaie where he trained Haitians in grafting techniques for fruit
trees. He recalled on of the participants telling him (and I
paraphrase), "You've done a good job coming here and showing me how to
be a better peasant but, to tell you the truth, I'd really rather not
_be_ a peasant." "What job would you rather have?" he asked. "I would
rather have a job like yours, flying around the world showing people how
to graft fruit trees!" the Haitian replied.

Well, that was only half in jest but the point is we shouldn't assume
that Haitians peasants are tied to the land by some kind of choice as
opposed to the desperate lack of alternatives. By all means, help
Haitian agriculture. I'm not sure what we can do to overcome the
monumental legal and political problems of Haitian land reform but we
can certainly support microcredit lending programs, marketing
assistance, technical training, etc. 

But the fact remains that even if your program has the phenomenal
success of _doubling_ income, the average rural household of six can
_triple_ its income by getting just _one_ of its members a job in the
export assembly sector. And this sector is held back by something we, as
Americans, can clearly do something about -- end high U.S. tariffs and
trade barriers to its products.

Legislation to lower these trade barriers, known generically as "CBI
enhancement" (a reference to the Caribbean Basin Initiative) should be
coming up later this month in the U.S. Senate. You need to CALL BOTH
YOUR SENATORS' OFFICES NOW and ask them to "pass CBI enhancement." Tell
them to "talk to the Senate leadership and ask them to bring it to the
floor _this_ session!"

As those of you who follow this issue know, the Senate version is _not_
the best version possible. We favor the 'Crane-Rangel' version in the
House (HR 984) which has fewer restrictions on the use of locally
produced materials. The political fact, however, is that we need for the
Senate version to move now so that we will have a vehicle to improve
upon in the House-Senate Conference that will follow.

Secondly, raise the issue with your church or civic organizations and
ask them to endorse the letter below. We will compile the list of
endorsers and get it to the attention of the Conferees. We may even run
it as a full page ad in Roll Call - the Congressional newspaper. This
will be our vehicle to get the final bill improved in Conference to
allow the countries of the region to use more of their own, locally
produced materials in products for the U.S. market.

Get endorsements to the address below as soon as possible. 

Here's the text of the letter:


The organizations listed below urge passage this year of legislation to
reduce U.S. tariffs and trade barriers to the countries of Central
America and the Caribbean. These are some of the poorest countries in
the Western Hemisphere. Their democratically-elected governments are
emerging from years of political instability. They have also recently
been devastated by Hurricanes Georges and Mitch. Humanitarian assistance
is called for but what the people of the region really need is
sustainable economic development and access to markets. The U.S. should
not maintain trade barriers against the poor!

Enhanced trade with Central America and the Caribbean would also benefit
the United States. It would increase our own exports to the region,
reduce incentives to illegal immigration and drug trafficking, and
provide inexpensive goods to American consumers. 

_Onerous content restrictions, which would inhibit the countries of the
region from using their own, locally produced materials, will diminish
the benefits of this legislation and should be eliminated!_

Third: below are the present Co-Sponsors of HR 984 -- the better bill --
in the House. If your Representative is not among them, give his/her
office a call and ask them to "co-sponsor HR 984, the Caribbean and
Central America Relief and Economic Stabilization Act!" If your rep is
already on, why not give their office a call just to say "Thanks!" (You
can find out who your house rep is by going to
<http://www.house.gov/writerep/> and plugging in your zip code.)

Republicans (33)		Democrats (27)

Philip M. Crane (8IL, Sponsor)	Charles B. Rangel (15NY)
Jim Kolbe (5AZ)			Robert T. Matsui (5CA)
Amo Houghton, Jr. (31NY)	William J. Jefferson (2LA)
David Dreier (28CA)		Rubén Hinojosa (15TX)
Philip S. English (21PA)	Carrie Meek (17FL)
Mark Foley (16FL)		Bobby Rush (1IL)
Dan Miller (13FL)		Donna M.C. Christensen (VI)
Richard K. Armey (26TX)		Jim McDermott (7WA)
Jim Ramstad (3MN)		Calvin M. Dooley (20CA)
E. Clay Shaw (22FL)		James P. Moran (8VA)			
Jennifer Dunn (8WA)		Edolphus Towns (10NY)
Scott McInnis (3CO)		Major R. Owens (11NY)			
Jerry Lewis (40CA)		Carolyn Kilpatrick (15MI)
Thomas M. Davis III (11VA)	Donald M. Payne (10NJ)
Rob J. Portman (2OH)		Alcee Hastings (23FL)
Deborah Pryce (15OH)		Gregory W. Meeks (6NY)
Steven C. LaTourette (19OH)	Earl Blumenauer (3OR)
David McIntosh (2IN)		Eddie Bernice Johnson (30TX)
Thomas J. Bliley (7VA)		Anna Eshoo (14CA)
Christopher Cannon (3UT)	Ken Bentsen (25TX)
Vernon Ehlers (3MI)		Jim Davis (11FL)
Kevin P. Brady (8TX)		Sheila Jackson Lee (18TX)
Jim Nussle (2IA)		Chaka Fattah (2PA)
Rodney Frelinghuysen (11NJ) 	Sam Farr (17CA)
George P. Radanovich (19CA)	Anthony David Weiner (9NY)
Marge Roukema (5NJ)		Elijah Cummings (7MD)
John M. Shimkus (20IL)		Harold E. Ford, Jr. (9TN)
Dave Camp (4MI)			
Bill Barrett (3NE)
Edward Royce (39CA)
Michael Oxley (4OH)
Connie Morella (8MD)
James M. Talent (2MO)

Merrill Smith
Haiti Advocacy, Inc.
1309 Independence Avenue SE
Washington DC 20003-2302
(202) 544-9084
(202) 547-2952 fax