Montana Editorial Roundup

Montana Editorial Roundup
Montana Editorial Roundup

Billings Gazette, June 20, on Montana's stake in China trade war:

Montanans proudly buy baked goodies and flour made from wheat grown in our state. But no matter how much we enjoy those yummy made-in-Montana products, we Montanans couldn't begin to consume all the wheat Montana farmers grow.

In 2017 (which wasn't their biggest harvest) Montana farmers produced 127.4 million bushels of wheat - enough to make 5.35 billion loaves of bread. That's why most of the state's wheat production is exported and why agriculture is the state's biggest cash industry with the annual wheat crop alone valued $1 billion in recent years.

Exports drive Montana's ag industry. International trade deals — or lack of deals — are a big deal in the Treasure State.

The trade war that started last week with 25 percent tariffs imposed by the United States on $50 billion in Chinese products exported to our country escalated over the weekend with China's tit-for-tat on $50 billion in U.S. exports. On Monday, the White House floated the threat of adding tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese products.

Trade wars have a way of escalating as tensions mount and everyone's profit is at risk. Consider how bad the outlook is already for Montana agriculture. Tariffs will raise the price Chinese buyers pay for Montana wheat, making it less competitive. The Gazette's Tom Lutey and Montana grain industry experts explained in a Sunday report how hits to other U.S. grain commodities will also depress the wheat market. Basically, if grain markets are down, Montana's economy suffers one way or another.

In the livestock field, Montana ranchers hope for a $200 million beef deal with a Chinese company, a sale that has yet to materialize. The sale announced last November by U.S. Sen. Steve Daines, R-Montana, might not happen in the midst of a trade war.

Farmers aren't the only Americans who will lose.

"The U.S. tariffs and follow-on retaliation by China would hurt U.S. farmers, factory workers, and workers in construction and services sectors," according to an economists' report for the National Retail Association and the Consumer Technology Association. "Farmers would see a hit of 6.7 percent to their net incomes, and jobs in the sector would drop by over 67,000. Manufacturing employment would rise in some sectors, but fall in others; net jobs would drop by nearly 11,000. For employment as a whole, more than four jobs would be lost for every one gained, with the gains in metals and machinery coming at the expense of agriculture, transportation equipment, and services."

Montana's wheat farmers worry because the Trump administration backed out of the Trans Pacific Partnership. Japan is still in the TPP and has been buying most of its wheat from the United States. But the TPP will provide Japan with more favorable terms for buying its wheat from other TPP countries.

The North American Free Trade Agreement that President Trump is renegotiating with Mexico and Canada raises concerns about maintaining Mexico as a major wheat customer for the United States. Montana exports most of its grain to Asia, while Kansas sells produces most of the wheat shipped to Mexico. But if Kansas lost is Mexican market, that state's wheat growers would seek other markets.

International trade is a complex business where the ripples of conflict surface far from the point where the trade policy decisions are made.

Daines, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, recently took a trip to China with other senators and has been a White House guest several times. If any member of the Montana delegation can get the president's ear on ag trade, it's Daines.

Daines has told Trump about the problems withdrawing from the TPP will cause Montana farmers, but so far, the U.S. is still out. Daines also ought to be reminding Trump what tariffs on Chinese goods will do to Montana farmers and ranchers — many of whom voted for him in 2016.



Missoulian, June 19, on Montana's congressional delegates needing to help reunite immigrant families:

Under a new "zero-tolerance" policy announced in April, when parents with children enter the United States illegally, the adults are taken to jail for prosecution and their children are taken to live somewhere else — either with friends or relatives, if they can be located, or placed in foster care, if a home becomes available in an already overburdened foster care system — or in one of the makeshift centers now receiving so much attention.

As news reports have illustrated, some immigrant detention centers very much resemble jails — children are kept behind metal fencing, with foil sheets to use as blankets, and are allowed outside just two hours a day. Other reports have explained that children are being separated even when their parents request asylum through legal channels.

Separating young children from their parents is traumatic enough without subjecting them to these conditions as well. Add in the fact that many of these children have suffered trauma in their home countries already, and the U.S. has all the ingredients for the makings of a lasting national shame.

Montana's congressional delegation, thankfully, offered a glimmer of hope this week with their united opposition to this unconscionable policy. All three said they do not support the practice of taking children away from their parents. Their stance on behalf of sanity and human decency should be recognized and applauded.

For the Republican members of Montana's delegation, U.S. Sen. Steve Daines and U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte, this opposition marked a rare break in support for President Trump. Daines united with the rest of the Republicans in the Senate Tuesday afternoon in a vow to end the practice of separating children from their parents.

U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, a Democrat, also followed up his words with action in the form of co-sponsoring a bill to reverse the new separation policy and keep families together. The Keeping Families Together Act now counts support from 38 Democrats and two Independents, but no Republicans.

This Thursday, Gianforte will have his own opportunity to back up his words, when the members of the House are expected to vote on two immigration measures. One of the bills, according to the latest draft available Tuesday morning, would allow those who were brought to the U.S. as children to pursue a path to citizenship, while also forking over $25 billion for the notorious border wall promised by President Trump. The other bill would only provide temporary legal status for DREAMers, and make other restrictions expected to result in a 25 percent reduction in legal immigration.

Trump was meeting with House Republicans Tuesday evening, and Gianforte has yet to say what, specifically, he will vote for in this fast-moving debate. Congress also has not said what action it will demand to return to their parents the 2,000 children who have been taken from them since April.

They must take action immediately.

There is no justification — ever — for traumatizing children. It is not what this country stands for, and on behalf of Montana, our representatives should not stand for it either.



Bozeman Daily Chronicle, June 19, on Yellowstone superintendent's ouster raising concerns for park policy:

Outgoing Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Dan Wenk has said he believes he is being pushed out of the job as a "punitive action" for resisting Trump administration efforts to reduce the number of bison in the park.

If that's the case, it's a sad day for Yellowstone and the future of natural resource policy.

Wenk was told he would be transferred from Yellowstone to a job in Washington earlier this year. He rejected the move and announced instead he would retire at the end of March of next year. But Interior Department officials forced him to move that date up when they announced a new superintendent would be in office later this summer.

Wenk, a 42-year veteran of the park service and seven-year Yellowstone superintendent, said the only reason he can think of for his ouster is that he has butted heads with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke's department on the number of bison in the park. Zinke, a former Montana congressman, has been silent on the subject.

The park bison population stands at about 4,000 now — which Wenk maintains the park can sustain. But livestock industry lobbyists want the number reduced to 3,000 to reduce competition for grazing when the bison move out of the park and onto leased public grazing lands. Ranchers also perceive the bison as a threat because some carry brucellosis, a disease that can cause cows to abort their calves, although there are no documented cases of bison transmitting the disease to livestock in the wild.

Wenk's exit was just one of more than a dozen upper echelon moves regarded by observers as efforts to execute Trump administration policies that downplay conservation and favor industries like mining, forest products and agriculture.

It wasn't that long ago — a few decades at most — when high-level supervisory land-management positions in the Park Service, Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management were largely apolitical. They were held by highly experienced professionals with long records of applying science to land and wildlife management issues.

These latest moves by Zinke and the Trump administration signal these critical posts will now go to those more supportive of the administration's positions, regardless what's best for the natural resources involved.

And that's truly unfortunate. American national parks, forests, wildlife and other publicly owned natural resources must not be entrusted to the volatile whims of politicians.


This article was written by cool news network.

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