Action Alert


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.


Please take five minutes and complete the survey. To find out more about these trade agreements, go to iatp.org/tradesecrets.

What does the occupation of Wall Street have to do with agriculture?

Posted September 30, 2011 by Ben Lilliston   

FinanceFood securityMarket speculation

Used under creative commons license from marniejoyce.

The occupation of Wall Street protests originated from a July call to action by Adbusters to oppose growing corporate control over democracy and government.

Now two weeks in, the occupation of Wall Street originated from a July call to action by Adbusters to draw a line in the sand on the growing corporate control of our democracy and government—and in particular, Wall Street’s influence.
 
Agriculture markets have been especially hard hit by Wall Street’s political prowess. Wall Street deregulation has not only made the stock market extremely volatile, it has increased prices and price volatility in agricultural markets. The cost of protecting against price volatility are considerable for the future of agriculture not only in the U.S., but around the world.  
 
In 2008, we reported on the role a new wave of financial speculators, operating through commodity index funds controlled by Wall Street firms like Goldman Sachs, played in creating extreme volatility in agriculture commodity markets—and ultimately contributing to rising global rates of hunger. Wall Street speculators were able to enter commodity futures markets after a successful and systematic decade-long lobbying effort to dismantle strong market safeguards. According to Wall Street Watch, from 1998–2008, Wall Street invested over $5 billion in lobbying and campaign contributions in support of their deregulatory agenda.
 
In the last two years, IATP and many others have worked to overcome a huge lobbying surge by Wall Street (President Obama had to actually beg Wall Street to call off the dogs) opposing efforts to effectively regulate commodity futures exchanges within the Dodd-Frank Financial Reform Bill. That fight continues as Wall Street is expending enormous amounts of money to influence the rule-making process at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and the Security Exchange Commission (Goldman Sachs alone spent $1.08 million in lobbying agencies last quarter). And unfortunately, according to Reuters, Wall Street is making headway by watering down proposals for new position limits set by the CFTC, which regulate the amount of futures contracts any one entity can hold at any one time.
 

Wall Street aside, it’s nearly impossible to find a legislative or regulatory issue related to food and agriculture that hasn’t been deeply shaped (if not outright written) by corporate lobbyists. Adbusters called for a Presidential Commission to end the influence of corporate money in Washington. That would be step in the right direction for those who care about agriculture and our food system. If Washington won’t step up to the plate, the stakes will only get higher. 




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