Family Farmers disappointed by approval of trade deals Print
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Katherine Ozer   
Friday, 14 October 2011 11:49
The National Family Farm Coalition expressed its deep disappointment at the news of Congressional approval of the free trade agreements with Korea, Colombia, and Panama. Board president Ben Burkett stated, “The U.S. alone has lost 300,000 family farmers since NAFTA was implemented, and we don’t expect the lowered tariffs for beef and oranges to offset those numbers in the next 15 years.”

Wisconsin farmer John Kinsman, who met with President Obama, USDA Secretary Vilsack and Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood at the White House Rural Forum in Podesta, Iowa, was particularly disheartened. “We outlined our concerns about the trade agreements to the President and Secretary Vilsack, but they chose to ignore them. This Administration has, unfortunately, caved to the notion that any trade is good trade. They abandoned their campaign pledge to revisit our nation’s trade policies, despite the continued loss of family-scale producers and the rural communities behind them.”

The Coalition was one of 57 farm, fishing, food, faith, and social justice organizations who signed a September 14 letter to members of Congress urging opposition to all three trade agreements, demanding ‘fair trade, not free trade.’

NFFC board vice president Dena Hoff noted, “The Korean Peasants League calculated that South Korea will lose nearly half of its agricultural production and its farmers, so their rural communities will decline just as those in the U.S. have. Instead of supporting localized food production and food sovereignty, the plan is to export highly processed foods that simply add to the pockets of transnational corporations.”

Additional concerns included Colombia’s human rights abuses and Panama’s tax-haven status. Added Hoff, “This is morally wrong.”

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