Latest articles


NAFTA talks take a sinister turn

Free Market Reflections with Steve Dittmer

The NAFTA negotiators have completed Rounds 3 and 4 and the progress has been glacial. What we don’t know is whether that is just as well, seeing we can’t be sure what will satisfy President Trump. Round 3, held in Canada, was devoted to getting on paper the items the three countries could agree on. […] Read more


Rooting the dietary guidelines in sound science

Free Market Reflections with Steve Dittmer

“There’s a lot of stuff in the Guidelines that was right 40 years ago but that science has disproved. Unfortunately, sometimes, the scientific community doesn’t like to backtrack.” That was David McCarron, nutrition researcher at the University of California-Davis nearly two years ago, commenting on the U.S. Congress ordering a comprehensive review of the way […] 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.

After two rounds

Free Market Reflections with Steve Dittmer

Two rounds of NAFTA renegotiation have been held and the three participants have been sizing each other up. While the three nations laid out their objectives in the first round, the second round was more about consolidating the things all three can agree on and cutting out the things that will be more difficult or […] Read more




A new cowplant for Idaho

CS Beef Packers will process 1,700 head per day

A family with lots of experience turning cows into beef has a brand new plant up and running at Kuna, Idaho, near Boise offering a new marketing option for cull cows to ranchers in the northwest U.S. and Western Canada. CS Beef Packers is a partnership between the Caviness family of Caviness Beef Packers in […] Read more


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