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

Critical homegrown energy programs at risk in 2012 Farm Bill

Broad coalition presses congress to renew and fund core energy title programs

Published April 11, 2012

MINNEAPOLIS – A diverse coalition of 123 national and Minnesota organizations sent letters to U.S. House of Representatives and Senate leadership urging them to preserve and fund Farm Bill energy programs that are critical for national security, the environment, and rural economies. These programs help advance renewable biomass crops, increase energy efficiency, support wind and solar power, and encourage the expansion of biobased products.

“With energy costs going up, now is the time to invest in our farms, forests and rural communities to help them reduce energy waste and produce more renewable energy” said IATP Rural Communities Program Director, Jim Kleinschmit. “These core programs are critical to help rural America thrive and increase our homegrown energy capacity. Without support from Congress these programs could be eliminated in the next farm bill.”

The letters, signed by groups representing a broad range of farm, environment, ranch, energy, and commodity interests, emphasized the importance of programs like the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP), Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), Biorefinery Assistance Program (BAP), and Biobased Markets Program (Biopreferred) in creating rural jobs and increasing renewable energy and energy efficiency.

“We know the American people support clean energy and job creation,” said Kleinschmit. “Now, we’re asking Congress to show their commitment to these same ideals by preserving and funding these programs.”

Sen.d Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn, Al Franken, D-Minn, and Kent Conrad, D-N.D., recently introduced an energy title bill that would provide more than $1.2 billion in funding over the next five years for these programs.

Download the PDFs of the Minnesota and National letters.

The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy works locally and globally at the intersection of policy and practice to ensure fair and sustainable food, farm and trade systems.


       Sign up for our free newsletter!