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March 1, 2017
 

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QUOTE OF THE WEEK "I remember the college application process, and I didn't know if I could do it or leave my family. CIS told me, 'You need to go out and experience life. " - Melissa Limon, Communities in School awards recipient. See story, page 3B. Hays Free Press March 1,2017 Page 3A e war es (Note: The following opinion piece first ran in the Dallas Morning News and is reprinted here with permission.) BY I~ PAmo~ Tfthe first casualty of war |is truth, then the first J.casualties of trade war are the working man and woman.And first among them is about to be the iconic Texas rancher. Hem in the roiling pastures of bright, green spring grass at the edge of the Texas Hill Count~, the handful of large spreads prosper from a wet winter. The short-horned Charo- lais breed, imported from France via Mexico, grow thick and wide, their white coats bright in the sun- shine of impending spring. The Charolais makes for some of the finest grass- fed beef in the world. Now that a years-long drought has broken, ranchers can count on trucking in less of that expensive coastal grass they require in the dry months. But the Texas cattle rancher now faces a new threat: the Trump admin- istration's blundering, blustering trade policy. By threatening a trade war with Mexico within days of inauguration, the president helped trigger a slide in cattle futures. Mexico is a major export market. By sinking the Trans-Pacifc Partnership, the new administration cut offlong-sought access to the lapanese market. Now banks have raised the conditions for collateral for loans for ranchers. Texas ranchers, though, will not be alonefor long. Beef producers from Nebraska to the Dakotas face the same problems. So do grain farmers in Kansas and the snow-cov- ered corn felds of Iowa, just like tomato farmers in California and Florida and autoworkers in Michigan, longshoremen, truckers and railway workers in Miami and Houston and Long Beach. These will be the first casualties of a trade war. Tnunp fired his open- ing salvo fight after his inauguration by threat- ening a 20 percent tax on Mexican goods coming into the United States, the funds would ostensibly fund the border wall. That Texas is the largest exporter among the 50 states with nearly $280 billion in exports, according to state data. The top destinations: Mexico, followed by Canada, Brazil and China, three of which are now embroiled in trade disputes with Washington even as Texas exports oil, coal, petrochemicals, heavy machinery and transportation equipment. led to Mexican President Enrique Pefia Nieto to cancel a summit with the new American president. Tramp's was an artillery shell delivered for effect. Pefia Nieto answered in kind. Within days, both beat a hasty retreat though, putting their diplomats behind closed doors with the Canadians tO work out a new trade agreement. By then, however, the collateral damage was done. It was clear that the Trump administration would at least rewrite trade agreements if not scuttle them. The first to go down was the Trans-Pacific Partnership. And rewriting the rest means, at the very least, injecting uncertainty into what the new rules of trade look like. At the worst, it means that the trade wars will resume in earnest. No state in the country has more expo- sure to economic damage in each scenario than Texas. Texas doesn't remotely fit the mold of Tramp's enfeebled America that is losing jobs to competi- tors overseas. Texas is the largest exporter among the 50 states with nearly $280 billion in exports, according to state data. The top destinations: Mex- ico, followed by Canada, Brazil and China, three of which are now embroiled in trade disputes with Washington even as Texas exports oil, coal, petro- chemicals, heavy machin- ery and transportation equipment. That means Texas is home to some of the nation's busiest ports, such as Laredo, E1 Paso, Houston and Galveston. More Texans work in trade than in oil and gas. Nearly a half-million work for foreign-owned companies, which have pumped more than $20 billion annually into the economy. Now all that is at varying forms of risk. Sinking the Trans-Pacific Partnership may have been popular with Tramp's supporters, but it was not popular with cattle ranchers. They have been building herds for years and anticipated ship- ping beef products -- some ofwhich are not exactly popular among American consumers -- to Japan as tariffs fell from 38.5 per- cent to just over 9 percent. Now that opportunity is gone. Instead, other cat- fie-producing nations like Australia will try to seize the ]apanese market on a bilateral basis. Last week, Texas ranchers shipped 1,430 cattle to Mexico, most to slaughter and to market. On an annual basis that's 74,000 head, part of a brisk two-way business that sees hundreds of thousands of Mexican cattle coming north to be fattened in Midwestern feed lots. But in the event of a trade war, all bets are off. A tariffhere means retaliation by the Mexican government there, and the last time that happened, it was the United States that surrendered. In phasing in NAFTA in the early 2000s, Congress abruptly interrupted the movement of Mexican trucks north. The Mexicans retaliated with a crippling tariff on American tomato growers. The Republican Congress caved and today, Mexican tracks head north freely. Ranching is a tough business. Even in good times, a margin is thin- ner than barbed wire. A spike in feed costs here or a change of govern- ment policy there and the year is a bust before it's begun. Already cow-calf operators aren't coming close to breaking even on their calves. But ranchers wouldn't be alone. A vari- ety of studies and forecasts show that Iowa corn farmers would find them- selves in huge trouble; they are highly dependent on exports to China and to Mexico. So are grain farm- ers on the High Plains. The interruption of sup- ply chains between Mexico and Detroit would be felt by autoworkers. Ameri- cans export cars, after all, for sale in Mexico - not just assemble parts of them there. Even shippers are in trouble. Citigroup warned investors about five companies with exposure in Mexico recently. One was Kansas City Southern, whose rails connect Mexi- co and much of the United States. The stock price pltumneted. But that was only after Citigroup cut its own exposure in Mexico first, of course. Now, even the investor class is starting to feel the headwinds of economic war. Despite a rally at the stock market, the pres- ident's policies are now proving logically inco- herent when they're put together. The border wall was to be budget-neutral, meaning no new taxes or spending, but now it rams out to cost an estimated $20 billion, which the Mexicans will, in fact, not pay. That means increasing deficit spending or raising taxes, both of which seem non-starters. A wall and a spending spree on infrastructure will not, it turns out, be free be- cause debt-to-productivity ratios are climbing. Banks are tightening lending conditions, anticipating a profitable credit crunch. Fitch Ratings has warned that the president's erratic foreign and trade policy is causing so much uncer- tainty that even foreign government debt is start- ing to look shaky. "The Trump adminis- tration represents a risk to international economic conditions and global sovereign credit funda- mentals," according to Fitch. "U.S. policy predict- ability has diminished, with established interna- tional communication channels and relationship norms being set aside and raising the prospect of sudden, unanticipated changes in U.S. policies with potential global implications." The irony, of course, is that states like Texas, the plains states and Michi- gan all helped put Trump in office. But the cows in pasture don't care about politics. And cowboys rightly don't care about irony, even if they are to be its first casualties. Richard Parker is the lecturer-of-practice in journalism at Texas State University. Twitter: @ richardparkertx LETTERS TO THE EDITOR REF: PROTEST: LOBOS to be available for more hours. This type of be- IN SUPPORT OF WALK OUT IN SUPPORT OF demanding and import- havior costs the school BUDAFEST IMMIGRANTS ant duties, monies to educate others I support immigrants, and taxpayers dollars!I may be late to the In answer to the stu- just not the illegal ones In the Community debate on this topic, but dents who walked out of who use our hard earned Impact paper of Feb. I would like to comment class and protested on tax dollars that should 15th, Hays ISD has these on this issue. I am a part- Feb. 16th, you broke the be helping our own legal ratings: Domain I, grade time Buda resident. laws. citizens, U.S. veterans, C, Domain II grade C, I've been doing craft To Ms. Denise V'fllan- disabled individuals, the Domain III, grade D, and shows since 2002. ueva, and I quote her mentally ill, homelessDomain IIII, Grade D. I have been a vendor from the Hays Free Press, persons, U.S. Native Lehman falls into thisat Budafest only four "We're not trying to cause American Indians and district of Hays. These times (2016 would have any problems. We're just children, and the poorstudents need to be inbeen the 5th). I was showing our voices." You (not the ones who abuse school learning, not a vendor for the "ice and your fellow students the system) that need protesting. Our district is postponement" year. did cause problems: financial assistance, almost failing. This is not While it was nice to have broke the law by walk- As a Hays ISD officialacceptable either, a make-up day, there ing out of school during stated, all of you violat- I am tired of educating were negatives as well. hours to protest, caused ed the rules of using the individuals who are not One reason this is a two- major disruption along campus for non-school willing to learn and be- day event is because of a major thoroughfare acitivites, come better people andpotential weather events. in Kyle, and forced law Punishment needs to U.S. citizens. After all, what Texas is enforcement to moni- be given to the students A concerned citizen offamous for? Wait a while tor your protest march who participated in this Central Texas, and the weather will which caused them not march during school Renee Hill, Buda change. I've also been as a vendor at a previous Budafest that saw one rainy day (low turnout) and one sunny day (great turnout) during the same weekend. In my experience, it's rare to have a cancellation refund at these events. Sometimes one may not even make enough in sales to cover the fee. It has happened to me a time or two but fortunately, only in my early years of craft shows. And, think about this. Budafest is a fund- raising of the first order and finest production! What about the scout troops, club groups, church groups that all count this event as a major annual fund- raising. This was a tough one for sure, but I never once thought about the fee. It is clear in the vendor app that there is no rain delay. I am happy to have my fee go to Project Graduation and to have paid for any advanced fees that were entailed during preproduction. This is the cost of doing business folks! I hope others will step up in defense of this event and the folks who manage it. Even if it wasn't the outcome we all hoped for, it is one of the many, many things that make Buda such a wonderful town! Martha (Marry) Wallgren, part-time Buda resident Barton Publications, Inc. News tips: news@haysfreepress.com Opinions: csb@haysfreepress.com 113 W. Center St., Kyle, TX 78640 www.haysfreepress.com 512-268-7862 Publisher Cyndy Slovak-Barton News and Sports Editor Moses Lees III Reporters Samantha Smith, Lesley De Leon Logan McCullough, Quixem Ramirez Columnists Bartee Haile, Chris Winslow, Pauline Tom, Clint Younts Proofreaders Jane Kirkham Marketing Director Tracy Mack Marketing Specialists James Darby, Pam Patino Production Manager David White Production Assistant Christine Thorpe Circulation/Classifieds David White Distribution Gabe Ornelas Tanya Ornelas +