On March 12th, the Obama administration decided to give the European Union (EU) another month to reach a compromise. By late April we should have our first measure of the new administration's international clout.
Seems the EU started a food fight and now Obama has to finish it. Apparently they have a beef with our cattle because most have been given hormones. They banned the import of American beef. So, as a final shot in the foot of his legacy, on January 13, President Bush decided that he'd hit them with a 300% tariff on French Roquefort cheese and a 100% levy on Belgian chocolates, Irish oatmeal, Polish fruit juices, truffles, foie gras, many bottled waters, and a shopping list of other gourmet goodies nobody can afford to buy anymore anyhow. The Bush taxes were to take effect March 23, but last week Obama gave the Europeans another month to chew it over with his trade reps.
Because they started it, our retaliation against the EU has been approved by the World Trade Organization. But don't be surprised if the EU pushes back from this table. If Obama thought that Islamic radicals and Rush Limbaugh's Dittoheads were tough cookies, wait till his people try to reason with EU agricultural ministers, farmers, and chefs. It is doubtful that a delegation
of Giada de Laurentiis, Rachael Ray, and Paula Dean could soften up that crowd.
Roquefort is an odd target since the Euro ban is on all US (and Canadian) beef. The wonderful blue veined sheep cheese comes only from the area around the small town of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon in Southern France where it is estimated that about 6,000 people depend on it for a living. In 1999, when we whacked their cheese with a 100% tax in an attempt to get our beef in, hundreds of farmers demolished a McDonald's. Nestle, the importer of San Pellegrino, one of the bottled waters to be taxed, has estimated it will choke off more than 100 US jobs.
If the US goes ahead and bites our 27 allies on this, who knows, we might just find that they will counter with bans on such American staples as peanut butter with salmonella, Cheez Wiz, Velveeta, Wonder Bread, Baconnaise, Spam, Tang, Mrs. Butterworth's, Country Crock, Twinkies, Cool Whip, Mike's Hard Lemonade, Miller Lite, Pop-Tarts, Miracle Whip, Pringles, Fluff, and Butterball Turkey Bacon.
What do you mean they don't eat that stuff?
Well then, maybe they'll just decide not to vote for Obama's home town for the Olympics.
Remember, no rules in the bedroom or the kitchen!
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