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:
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, weve got the second largest number of farm operations and second highest number of cattle operations in the nation. Since NAFTA, weve lost millions of dollars by becoming a net importer of beef and have seen record low commodity prices in nearly every agricultural sector. Thats 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 NAFTAs impact on agricultural products that Missouri farmers depend on for their livelihoods.
|Published in In Motion Magazine, October 22, 2002
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