“It is a hard
decision to make after 30 years in the Congress, but I believe it is the right time for me to pursue these other interests.”
– SEN. BYRON DORGAN
The U. S. Senate will lose a vocal opponent of the Canadian Wheat Board’s single marketing desk and vocal supporter of COOL this fall.
Sen. Byron Dorgan, a Democrat representing North Dakota, announced Jan. 5 he won’t seek another six-year term in elections this year.
Dorgan served six terms in the U. S. House of Representatives starting in 1980 before moving to the Senate in 1992. Coming from Regent, N. D., about 200 km west of Bismarck, Dorgan’s family raised cattle and horses and worked in the farm equipment and fuel businesses. His Senate website now bills him as “one of the nation’s leading voices on behalf of America’s agriculture industry.”
“It is a hard decision to make after 30 years in the Congress, but I believe it is the right time for me to pursue these other interests,” Dorgan said in a statement Tuesday, referring to plans to teach, write and work on energy policy in the private sector.
Dorgan sits on four Senate committees, including the appropriations committee and its subcommittee on agriculture and rural development.
Dorgan was a champion of the 2008 Farm Bill, which included the legislation for the current form of mandatory country-of-origin labelling (COOL) on products made using imported meats and/or livestock.
COOL has since been blamed for substantial price pressure on Canadian producers’ exports to the U. S., as U. S. processors must now eat the added cost of segregating imported product all the way through their facilities.
However, in supporting the Farm Bill, Dorgan also called for tightened limits on program payments to U. S. farms, “to make sure that large corporate agribusinesses are not gaming the system.”
On the CWB file, Dorgan was responsible for one of many U. S. probes into the board’s trading practices. He requested the 1998 investigation of the CWB by the U. S. General Accounting Office (GAO) which ultimately found no evidence that Canada or the board violated any international agreement.
Dorgan has in previous years urged action over what he claimed was lost income for U. S. wheat growers due to Prairie wheat entering the U. S. market.
“It is time for (the U. S.) to put words into action and deal effectively and finally with the (CWB) and its predatory pricing practices,” he told a U. S. International Trade Commission hearing in 2003.
Dorgan has also been an influential advocate for opening up U. S. agricultural trade with Cuba, and recently sought to overturn policy set up by the Bush administration in 2005 that required U. S. ag exports to Cuba to be paid for in advance of shipping, rather than in advance of delivery.
“Our current policy hurts family farmers and restricts their ability to ship their products to the Cuban marketplace,” Dorgan said in July 2009. “The Castro brothers have never missed a meal because of this policy, but it has hurt our family farmers and ranchers.”
Dorgan on Jan. 5 also stressed that his decision “does not relate to any dissatisfaction that I have about serving in the Senate,” and “has no relationship to the prospect of a difficult election contest this year. Frankly, I think if I had decided to run for another term in the Senate I would be re-elected.”
North Dakota’s Republican Governor John Hoeven has been quoted as saying he’s “very seriously” considering a run for Dorgan’s Senate seat.