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Missouri farmers travel to Quebec City
for fair farm and trade polircies

Missouri Rural Crisis Center
Quebec City, Canada

Missouri farmers are participating in an international farmers' meeting in Quebec City this week to discuss options for stopping the corporate takeover of the food system. This meeting is being held parallel with negotiations for the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), a trade treaty that would extend NAFTA to 34 countries in the Western Hemisphere.

Family farmers in each of these countries have expressed similar changes in their agriculture since the advent of corporate trade agreements like NAFTA, GATT and the proposed FTAA: low market prices, increased corporate concentration and control of the food system, and loss of their democratic decision making.

Bill Christison, Missouri Rural Crisis Center (MRCC) President and a farmer from Chillicothe, spoke at a farm and trade meeting in Quebec on Tuesday about the U.S. agricultural system. "Corporate agribusiness and their political allies have been spending millions to tout the benefits of 'free trade' for a long time now, and they've sure got their money's worth. They're making record profits while farmers are going broke."

Christison believes that current farm policy debates are crucial for Missouri family farmers. "We need a farm bill that pays farmers a fair price, creates a farmer-owned reserve, and curtails corporate concentration."

"President Bush and Secretary of Agriculture Veneman might say that farmers need the FTAA," says Bryce Oates, MRCC member from Callaway County, "but the only benefits will go to Cargill, ConAgra, Smithfield and IBP. We need fair prices and food security, not the mandate of corporate greed."

Farmers attending the Quebec meetings this week have agreed upon at least four solutions to the current corporate food system:

  1. Fair market prices for the food and fiber that farmers produce
  2. Farmer-owned grain reserves for international food security
  3. The right to develop domestic farm and food policies that meet the needs of each country's farmers and consumers
  4. A ban on the patenting of seeds and other living organisms

Published in In Motion Magazine, March 22, 2001.

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