Farmers Need Fair Prices, Not NAFTA-Lite and Meager Tariff Aid

Trump Administration measures announced this week will not return prosperity to rural America

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: AUGUST 29, 2018

WASHINGTON, DC: This week, the Trump Administration announced a “handshake” deal with Mexico for a renegotiated North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and released details of the first payout of the $12 billion aid package to farmers hurt by retaliatory tariffs in the president’s trade war. Both measures are based on the false notion that foreign export markets are the key to restoring the US agricultural economy and vibrant rural communities. In contrast, the National Family Farm Coalition (NFFC) calls for US farmers and ranchers to receive a fair price for their goods through enforcement of an open and competitive marketplace and reinstated commodity price floor, strategic grain reserves, and strong conservation priorities as part of a farmer-led production management strategy to balance supply and demand.

“Global trade does not lead to farmer prosperity. While trade can be a healthy part of the farm economy, forcing other countries to accept US goods at below-market rates is not the way to support farmers and rural communities either in the US or abroad. Farmers need fair prices and a fair market, starting right here at home,” said Wisconsin dairy farmer Jim Goodman, president of National Family Farm Coalition.

Goodman continued, “Global trade is based on the premise that, as US farmers, it is our job to feed the world, when we know that the world can feed itself as long as farmers everywhere have fair prices and access to land.”

Details of the initial bilateral trade deal with Mexico are still vague. Under the original NAFTA, many US farmers found their markets destroyed as meat and produce packing plants and other infrastructure moved to Mexico, while Mexican farmers were driven out of business by taxpayer-subsidized grains dumped from the US.

The $12 billion farm aid package was announced after the president’s aggressive efforts to change the terms of trade with China and other countries backfired, resulting in high tariffs on US goods from our biggest trading partners. According to the US Department of Agriculture, the bulk of the first payout will go to soybean growers, with little relief making its way to other farmers – many of whom had been facing catastrophically low prices for months or years before the trade war.

Rather than focus on global trade, NFFC urges lawmakers to adopt measures to strengthen family farm agriculture based on a fair price for farmers, conservation, food sovereignty, and trade equity, as spelled out in NFFC’s 2018 Farm Bill Principles for Family Farmers.

Much of rural America is in the midst of a farm crisis and looking to policymakers for real change. Instead, the president evokes the patriotism of family farmers while offering them more false promises and no lasting solutions.

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Contact: Siena Chrisman, (917) 821-9631, sienachrisman @ gmail.com