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Farm Groups to U. S. Senate:
Just Say No To Fast Track!

Missouri Rural Crisis Center
Washington, D.C.

The Missouri Rural Crisis Center, along with ninety-five state, regional and national farm organizations, delivered a letter today to every member of the Senate strongly opposing legislation that would grant Fast Track trade authority to President Bush. The House of Representatives passed their version of fast track in 2001 by only one vote. President Bush is hoping to obtain fast track in order to negotiate new “free trade agreements,” including an extension of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) into 34 countries in the Western Hemisphere--the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA)

“The NAFTA trade model has failed family farmers and ranchers, and has devastated rural America,” said Bill Christison, a farmer from Chillicothe, Missouri, and President of both MRCC and the National Family Farm Coalition. “Commodity dumping, price manipulation, and devastatingly low prices for farmers are just some of the casualties of the failed agricultural and trade polices embodied by NAFTA, the WTO and farm programs that drive market prices down the tubes. Congress and the President must focus on addressing the many failures of NAFTA instead of expanding this economic, social and environmental disaster to the rest of the Western Hemisphere.”

“Fast track puts all the decision-making power for trade deals into the hands of the President. That violates the Constitution and circumvents the democratic process,” said Christison.

Farmers are pointing to key facts to illustrate the failures of NAFTA for U. S. food producers. Since NAFTA was put into place in 1994:

  • The overall agricultural trade surplus has declined from $22.5 billion per year to $12 billion in 2000, a 47% decrease.
  • Corn exports have decreased 11%, and corn prices have decreased 20%.
  • Wheat exports have decreased 8%, and wheat prices have decreased 28%.
  • Cotton exports have decreased 28%, and cotton prices have decreased 38%.
  • Soybean exports have increased 16%, but the price has fallen by 15% creating a net loss of 2% in the value of our soybean export market.
  • The $416 million dairy deficit has climbed to $796 million.
  • A $21 million beef surplus has declined to a $152 million beef deficit.
  • U.S. workers lost 766,000 manufacturing jobs.

Howard County farmer and MRCC Program Director, Rhonda Perry, believes that NAFTA’s record speaks for itself. "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. The Senate needs to stand up to the Bush Administration and reject fast track before family farmers are traded away."

MRCC and the other groups are also proposing fair trade principles for agriculture that, if followed, would begin to reverse the severe agricultural depression inflicted on rural America for the past decade by failed agricultural and trade policies:

  • Allow countries to prioritize sustaining family farms and global food security.
  • Vigorous enforcement of antitrust laws at the local, regional, national and international levels to guarantee competitive markets for family farmers and strengthening these laws where necessary.
  • Allow countries to establish domestic and global reserves, manage supply, enforce anti-dumping laws, and ensure fair market prices.
  • Allow countries to ensure the production and distribution of a safe, affordable, and abundant food supply to meet their domestic needs and achieve food security.

For more information, contact the Missouri Rural Crisis Center at 573-449-1336 or at, or the National Family Farm Coalition at 202-543-5676.

The letter

May 14, 2002

Dear Senator,

On behalf of the undersigned organizations, we urge your opposition to the granting of fast track trade authority.

Both President Bush and his trade representative, Robert Zoellick, have said they need to secure Fast Track authority from you to expand NAFTA.

NAFTA was disastrous for farmers, workers and consumers in the United States. The proposed extension of NAFTA to all of South America, the Free Trade Areas of the Americas (FTAA), will have the same effects as NAFTA but on a more devastating scale. NAFTA has not created more prosperity in the U.S.; instead, it has only accelerated the loss of family farms and jobs and held down wages for working people in the United States, as well as in Mexico and Canada. NAFTA promised farmers that they would be able to export their way to economic success, and promised lower food prices to consumers. Neither benefit has materialized; however, agribusiness corporations have seen their profits increase to record levels. Moreover, since 1996 (when the “Freedom to Farm” bill was passed), the overall agricultural surplus has declined from $29.5 billion per year to $12.6 billion in 2000, a 77% decrease.

The impact of NAFTA and other free trade agreements is reflected in the ongoing farm crisis gripping the nation, and the billions of taxpayer dollars appropriated to help alleviate the economic devastation caused by the failures of our export-driven farm policy. These impacts are compounded by increasing concentration in the agricultural sector.

Fast track is also extremely undemocratic. Citizens should have a say in what trade policy we have in this country. We elected you to make trade policy. Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution invests Congress with exclusive authority to “regulate Commerce with foreign nations.” Please do not abdicate this important responsibility.

Fast track will be a detriment to family farmers, rural communities, and working people because it fails to meet the principles of a fair trade policy that promotes global food security while sustaining family farms and competitive markets. An important way for you as a member of the U.S. Senate to ensure the survival of family farmers, rural communities, and working people, is to oppose fast track.


  • Agricultural Missions, Inc.
  • Alliance for Animals (WI)
  • Alliance for Sustainable Communities
  • Alternative Energy Resources Organization (AERO/MT)
  • American Agriculture Movement
  • American Corn Growers Association
  • American Milk Price Stabilization Initiative
  • American Raw Milk Producers Pricing Association
  • California Farmers Union
  • California Sustainable Agriculture Working Group
  • Campaign for Family Farms
  • Campaign to Reclaim Rural America
  • CATA/ Farmworker Support Committee
  • Center for Food Safety
  • Center for Rural Affairs
  • Church Women United (NY)
  • Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana
  • Community Farm Alliance (KY)
  • Community Food Security Coalition
  • Community Nutrition Institute
  • Corporate Agribusiness Research Project
  • Custer Resource Alliance (MT)
  • Dakota Resource Council (ND)
  • Dakota Rural Action (SD)
  • Empire State Family Farm Alliance
  • The Farm Connection
  • Family Farm Organization, Inc. (MT)
  • Family Farm Defenders (FFD)
  • Farmworker Association of Florida, Inc.
  • Federation of Southern Cooperatives
  • Florida Farmers, Inc.
  • Groundswell, Inc. (MN)
  • Hawaii Organic Farmers Association
  • Idaho Rural Council
  • Illinois Stewardship Alliance
  • Indiana NFO
  • Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
  • Intertribal Agriculture Council
  • Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement
  • Ithaca Area Safe Food Campaign
  • La C.A.S.A. del Llano (Communities Approaching Sustainable Agriculture-TX)
  • Land Loss Prevention Project
  • Land Stewardship Project (MN)
  • Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association
  • Mankato Area Environmentalists (MN)
  • Mexico Solidarity Network
  • Minnesota COACT
  • Minnesota Food Association
  • Minnesota Project
  • Missouri Farmers Union
  • Missouri Rural Crisis Center
  • Montana Association of Churches
  • Montana Cattleman’s Association
  • Montana Farmers Union
  • Montana National Farmers Organization
  • Montana Women Involved in Farm Economics
  • Montanans Organized for Public Service
  • National Campaign for Sustainable Agriculture
  • National Catholic Rural Life Conference
  • National Contract Poultry Growers Association
  • National Family Farm Coalition
  • National Farmers Organization (NFO)
  • National Sludge Alliance
  • Nebraska Farmers Union
  • The New Mexico Farmers Marketing Association
  • New York Sustainable Agriculture Working Group
  • North Dakota Farmers for Profitable Agriculture
  • North Dakota Progressive Coalition
  • Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York, Inc.
  • Northern Plains Resource Council (MT)
  • Ohio Family Farm Coalition
  • Oregon Rural Action
  • Pennsylvania Dairy Policy Development Committee of FFD
  • Politics of Food (NY)
  • Powder River Basin Resource Council (WY)
  • Presentation Sisters Social Justice Office (ND)
  • Progressive Agriculture Organization (PA)
  • Promised Land Network (TX)
  • Prune Bargaining Association
  • Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center
  • Rural Advancement Foundation International
  • Rural Coalition
  • Rural Vermont
  • Rural Virginia, Inc.
  • San Juan Citizens Alliance (CO)
  • Santa Fe Farmers Cooperative
  • School Sisters of Notre Dame-Mankato Province (MN)
  • Society for Animal Protective Legislation
  • Southern Research and Development Corporation (LA)
  • Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group
  • Sweetgrass Hills Protective Association (MT)
  • Taproot Center (WA)
  • Washington Sustainable Food and Farming Network
  • Western Organization of Resource Councils
  • Western Sustainable Agriculture Working Group

Published in In Motion Magazine, May 19, 2002.

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