Sunday, June 19, 2005

The Watching Washington Farm Report

The US Agriculture Department has been using tax money to promote a trade agreement that's opposed by both Democrats and Republicans in Congress -- but supported by the administration.

The Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) is also opposed by labor unions and the sugar industry.

The USDA has hammered out three dozen radio and television spots this year alone promoting CAFTA. The spots were cranked out even as the administration was taking a beating over spending millions on PR campaigns, secretly hiring pundits to hawk administration policies, and agencies producing VNRs (Video News Releases) masquerading as legitimate news stories.

The CAFTA spots came from the USDA's Broadcast Media and Technology Center -- which generates around 90 TV news reports a year. Many of them air intact on farm shows like AgDay and US Farm Report.

The center also cuts more than 2,000 radio reports sent out to 675 radio stations around the country. (Chicago Tribune)

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