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American Corn Growers announce opposition to Trade Promotion Authority

(May 2, 2002 CropChoice news) -- Keith Dittrich, President of the American Corn Growers Association (ACGA), today announced his organization's opposition to new Trade Promotion Authority legislation currently before the United States Senate. The Tilden, Neb. corn farmer explained that until existing trade agreements have been drastically improved to provide equity to U.S. farm families, there should be no further expansion of those agreements.

"The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has devastated farmers from the wheat fields of Canada to the corn fields of Mexico and from the tomato patches of Florida to the milking parlors of California," explained Dittrich. "And until we can accomplish a major overhaul of NAFTA, to insure that it is fair for farmers, farm workers and helps sustain family farms and the rural economy, ACGA will oppose the negotiation and ratification of the expansion of that trade agreement."

The Trade Promotion Authority legislative initiative, also referred to as "Fast Track" would delegate the authority to negotiate treaties, vested in the Congress by the Constitution, to the Executive branch in order to negotiate the proposed Free Trade of the Americas (FTAA) treaty.

"Over the past twenty five years, American corn farmers have been forced to relinquish 68 percent of their buying power by misdirected trade agreements and policies in pursuit of mythical increases in exports which were, in turn, promised to bring prosperity to rural America and lower food prices to America's consumers," said Dittrich. "While we farmers endured a reduction in what we receive for a bushel of corn - that's 56 pounds of food mind you - from an inflation adjusted price of $5.91 to $1.90, American consumers endured a whopping 250 percent increase in the cost of food. We all lost over the past quarter century because of unacceptable and inequitable trade policies. When you find yourself in a hole, the first rule is to quit digging and find out how to improve your situation."

"We have heard all the promises about NAFTA and GATT. They have been lies. We are not buying same old wore out empty words again," added Dittrich. "As we look back at previous trade agreements, we have been correct in our opposition, the proponents have been wrong in their predictions."

"As trite as it may sound, I am extremely serious when I declare that we must have fair trade if we are to truly have free trade," Dittrich explained.

Dittrich said ACGA would support trade reforms that do the following:

  • Allow countries to give priority to sustaining family farms and achieving global food security,
  • Vigorously enforce and strengthen local, regional, national and international antitrust laws,
  • Allow countries to establish domestic and global food reserves, and
  • Provide consumers the right to know and choose where and how their food is produced with county of origin labeling of all food.

The American Corn Growers Association represents 14,000 members in 35 states. See http://www.acga.org