Latest articles


U.S. NAFTA objectives begin to focus the trade picture

Free Market Reflections with Steve Dittmer

Ever since President Donald Trump’s election, cattlemen on both sides of the border have worried about the NAFTA agreement that has governed trade among the U.S., Canada and Mexico since 1994. Trump has called NAFTA the worst agreement the U.S. ever signed. In early conversations, Trump told Prime Minister Trudeau that very little of the […] Read more


Cross-border trade: Baby steps, clues and competition

The Trump administration has been hampered by the Democrat opposition party trying everything to delay confirmation of Trump appointees. So it was mid-May before the U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer was finally confirmed, nearly four months after the inauguration. That factor, plus Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue’s confirmation only a couple of weeks earlier, hampered the […] Read more



closeup of a cattle in a field

Events begin shaping trade with the U.S.

Free Market Reflections with Steve Dittmer

As Canadians who closely follow American politics know, the Democrats have not suffered their loss gracefully. But it’s not party hacks but citizens who suffer from obstructionist tactics. Of the 4,000 or so appointments needing Senate confirmation, only two or three dozen had been confirmed by mid-April. One of those delays could definitely affect trade […] Read more


The BAT that will smack trade

Free Market Reflections with Steve Dittmer

As if trade relations with the States under a new president weren’t uncertain enough for Canadians, the tax reform plan the Republicans introduced suddenly shows up with a nasty, anti-import provision in it. Suddenly, because in all the discussions over the last couple of years regarding big tax reform proposal — long before anyone knew Trump […] Read more



Closeup of the flags of the North American Free Trade Agreement NAFTA members on textile texture. NAFTA is the world's largest trade bloc and the member countries are Canada, United States and Mexico. 3D rendering with detailed textured grunge effect on closeup.

On the cusp of change on trade

Free Market Reflections with Steve Dittmer

One thing Canadian cattlemen can be certain of, they are not alone in their concern regarding trade, its importance to agriculture, or how it will be handled by the new Trump administration. At the U.S. cattle industry convention in February, anywhere from 250 to 400 cattlemen attended separate committee sessions on international marketing and export […] Read more


US Capitol Senate building

Donald Trump’s cabinet and trade

Free Market Reflections with Steve Dittmer

Candidate Donald Trump was not an unquestioned free trader. While he harped on China frequently, and Mexico and NAFTA considerably, he claimed he wasn’t against free trade as long as it was fair trade. I have hoped that he would fulfill his promises to recover manufacturing job losses in America’s midwestern Rust Belt with major […] Read more



The attempted resurrection of a horrible idea

Free Market Reflections with Steve Dittmer

As is often true with proposed regulation, it helps to consider the source in evaluating the origin, impetus and motivation. With the attempted resurrection of then GIPSA administrator J. Dudley Butler’s so-called “GIPSA Rule,” the cast of proponents is very similar to mCOOL, with which Canadians are all too familiar. R-CALF, the Organization for Competitive Markets […] Read more


Canadian cattlemen and Trump

We put on our most entertaining presidential campaign ever down here for Canadian cattlemen. Now, it’s on to a whole new reality on both sides of the border. What can Canadians expect from President Trump? There is definite good news. Three times before in American history, an administration has applied a free market, supply-side approach […] Read more



Michael Pollan is crusading again

Free Market Reflections with Steve Dittmer

The New York Times Magazine recently continued its war on conventional agriculture by giving considerable space to contributing editor Michael Pollan, the UC-Berkeley journalism professor who has made it his goal to replace modern agriculture with something producing only food his “great-grandmother would recognize.” Pollan’s latest* offering recounts how his letter in 2008 warned incoming […] Read more


Cutting your nose off to spite your face

While free market cattlemen and their associations operate similarly, whether Canadian or American, there are some differences, especially with regard to their government. While some Canadian associations can receive both government funds and government engagement in promoting and defending the beef industry, it’s different in America. No government funds go to any beef industry trade […] Read more