Fair trade or free trade? Let your voice be heard on Minnesota’s future!
The Obama Administration is negotiating two new mega trade deals (one with Pacific Rim countries, another with Europe) entirely in secret, with the goal of further expanding the NAFTA-model of free trade. These trade agreements could have major impacts on Minnesota's farmers, workers, small business owners and rural communities. They could limit Minnesota’s ability to support local food and energy systems and grow local businesses. In order to stay up to speed, Minnesota has set up a new Trade Policy Advisory Council (TPAC) to advise the state legislature and Governor.
TPAC wants to hear from Minnesotans: What concerns do you have about free trade? What role could TPAC play in the future? Now is your opportunity to have a say in our future trade policy. Complete the survey and let them know future trade negotiations should be public, not secret. Help ensure the voices of all Minnesotans are heard in the development of trade agreements and that they protect local control and our quality of life. The free trade model has failed for Minnesota and we need a new approach to trade. Help ensure the voices of all Minnesotans are heard before trade agreements are completed, and that they protect local control, our natural resources and our quality of life.
Posted December 13, 2007 by
You may have thought NAFTA was old news. But surprisingly, over a decade later, it still has not been fully implemented. Because NAFTA was so controversial in all three countries when it came into effect in 1994, the deal delayed implementation of the final agriculture provisions until January 1, 2008. And those final provisions are a big deal - particularly for Mexico. In January, NAFTA will require the removal of tariffs on white corn, beans, powdered milk, and other staple foods for many Mexicans.
Thirteen years of experience says the removal of those tariffs will be devastating for Mexico's food producing economy. Following the passage of NAFTA and the first wave of tariff reductions, U.S. agriculture exports to Mexico exploded. According to a USDA analysis that compared the time periods 1991-93 to 2003-05, U.S. agriculture exports to Mexico increased by 522 percent for corn, 381 percent for wheat, 329 percent for rice, 373 percent for soybeans, and 455 percent for pork.
IATP's A Fair Farm Bill and Immigration documents how agricultural employment in Mexico lost more than 2 million jobs from the early 1990s to 2006. Many former Mexican farmers have been forced to come to the U.S. to find work, as Claudia Melendez Salinas of the Monterrey Herald reported in an excellent article earlier this month.
Mexican farm groups are worried. Last week, Mexican sugar farmers shut down the country's sugar mills, demanding a price increase before the January 1 deadline which will open the border to high fructose corn syrup from the U.S.
Mexican farm groups are asking their legislature to suspend the final provisions of NAFTA, renegotiate the agreement to prioritize food sovereignty, and invest in modernizing Mexico's agriculture. Earlier this week, over 70 U.S., Canadian and international organizations wrote to leaders of the three NAFTA countries expressing support for the Mexican farm groups' proposal. IATP's Steve Suppan will present the letter to Mexican farm groups at a press conference later this week in Mexico City.
In a December 12 press release, the National Family Farm Coalition's George Naylor and the Canadian National Farmers Union's Darrin Qualman point out that NAFTA and free trade agreements have not benefitted U.S. or Canadian farmers either - and instead the big beneficiaries have been multinational agribusiness companies. The NFU Canada has a great little report looking at how Canadian farmers have faired since free trade agreements with the U.S. first came into effect in 1988.
IATP's Steve Suppan will report more next week on efforts by Mexican farm groups to suspend NAFTA following his trip to Mexico City.