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Rural Justice Tour Challenges Corporate Globalization

Local and International Farm Groups Vow to Continue
Challenging Corporate Trade Policies

Missouri Rural Crisis Center
Columbia, Missouri

The Missouri Rural Crisis Center (MRCC) is hosting a delegation of farm group representatives from Mexico, Brazil and Argentina October 23, 2002 in order to raise awareness about corporate control over the global agricultural system. These global leaders are traveling around the Midwest to speak out against the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), a Bush Administration trade proposal that would expand the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to the rest of the hemisphere. MRCC works with these international groups through Via Campesina, an international farmer movement working for fair trade, grassroots democracy and local control over the food system.

“The NAFTA trade model has failed Missouri family farmers and ranchers, and has helped fuel the economic devastation of rural America,” said Bill Christison, a farmer from Chillicothe, Missouri, who chairs both MRCC and the National Family Farm Coalition. “Commodity dumping, price manipulation, and devastatingly low commodity prices for farmers are just some of the casualties of the failed agricultural and trade polices embodied by NAFTA, the WTO and the current U. S. farm policy. Congress and the president must focus on addressing the many failures of NAFTA and current farm policies instead of expanding this economic, social and environmental disaster to the rest of the Western Hemisphere.”

“Farmers know that we're not all one big happy industry. NAFTA might be a great thing for Cargill or ConAgra, but farmers and consumers are paying the price to underwrite their huge profits,” said Christison.

MRCC and the other groups support 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.

“The impact of current farm and trade policy is reflected in the ongoing farm crisis gripping the nation, and the billions of taxpayer dollars appropriated each year to alleviate the economic devastation caused by the failures of our export-driven farm policy,” said Roger Allison, a grain and livestock farmer from Armstrong, Missouri, and the Executive Director of MRCC. “We need a farm bill that pays farmers a fair price, creates a farmer-owned reserve, and curtails corporate concentration. That's a plan that family farmers and rural communities can get excited about.”

Allison believes that NAFTA's record as a model for farm and trade policies speaks for itself. “In Missouri, we’ve got the second largest number of farm operations and second highest number of cattle operations in the nation. Since NAFTA, we’ve lost millions of dollars by becoming a net importer of beef and have seen record low commodity prices in nearly every agricultural sector. That’s just devastating to Missouri's family farmers.”

The Missouri Rural Crisis Center is a statewide farm and rural organization with more than 5,500 member families. The following table details NAFTA’s impact on agricultural products that Missouri farmers depend on for their livelihoods.

Product Missouri’s Rank Among States in Production
NAFTA’s Record for U.S. Farm Products, 1994-2000
Beef 2
A $21 million national beef surplus has declined to a $152 million beef deficit.
Dairy 6th in operations
16th in production
The $416 million national dairy deficit has climbed to $796 million.
Corn 10
Corn exports have decreased 11%, and corn prices have decreased 20%.
Soybeans 7
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.
Cotton 11
Cotton exports have decreased 28%, and cotton prices have decreased 38%.
Winter Wheat 12
Wheat exports have decreased 8%, and wheat prices have decreased 28%.

Published in In Motion Magazine, October 22, 2002

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