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Putting food sovereignty into NAFTA

(Thursday, Feb. 26, 2004 -- CropChoice news) -- The American Corn Growers Association is calling for renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) agricultural chapter to include the principles of food sovereignty.

"With the confluence of the ratification of NAFTA in 1994, which opened the Mexican boarder to U.S. corn exports, combined with the passage of the Freedom to Farm Act in 1996 which lowered U.S. commodity prices 40 percent, we have witnessed an exodus of farmers from the land in unprecedented numbers," said Mitchell. "We are not only exporting cheap corn to Mexico, we are exporting cheap corn prices to Mexico, with the result of almost 3 million Mexican farmers being driven from the land in the past ten years. The situation for U.S. farm families is not much better. Indeed, U.S. farmers sell corn at lower prices since NAFTA than just before NAFTA and we have to remember that farmers don't export to Mexico anyway, they sell corn at their local elevator for the local price. "

Mitchell recently attended a bi-national conference of farmers in Mexico City to discuss the problems of farm families on both sides of the border and to work on identifying possible solutions to help alleviate the crisis. "Food sovereignty should be a component of the renegotiation of NAFTA as should labor and environmental standards. These three tenants should also be essential to the negotiation of any pending or future trade agreements. All nations should be allowed to safeguard their ability to feed themselves," Mitchell said.

The conference attendees agreed to call on their governments to do the following:

  • Release the results of a complete and truthful evaluation of NAFTA's impacts on the Mexican countryside.
  • Review and renegotiate the agricultural chapter of NAFTA, guided by the principles of food sovereignty.
  • Reverse the process of agricultural industrialization, managed by large corporations, and all of its impacts (environmental, social and economic).
  • Strengthen the role of the state in public policy development, in service of the interests of the majorities and not transnational corporations.
  • Ensure fair prices to farmers, which allow us to cover our expenses and to live in conditions of dignity. This implies intervention of the state in the management of supply, and in the promotion of international cooperation to regulate global prices and markets.
  • Guarantee public spending and investment in rural communities to ensure access to the basic rights of food, health care, housing, education and transportation.
  • Acknowledge publicly the enormous importance of small and medium farmers to the economic, social, cultural and political development of our two countries.

To see more on this issue, go to http://www.acgf.org