New Trade Deal Will Hurt, Not Help, Farmers and Rural America

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National Family Farm Coalition opposes finalization of US-Mexico-Canada Agreement

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

December 13, 2019

Contact: Siena Chrisman, (917) 821-9631, siena@nffc.net

 

WASHINGTON – National Family Farm Coalition, representing farmer, rancher, fisher, and rural groups in over 40 states, opposes the modified US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) released this week by the House of Representatives and the White House. While the negotiators have promised the deal will be a win for rural America, the final version of the agreement offers little for family farmers. The deal fails to make meaningful change for dairy farmers or reinstate mandatory Country of Origin Labeling (COOL), two major issues for many farmers.

Jim Goodman, retired Wisconsin dairy farmer and president of National Family Farm Coalition, said, “The benefits of USMCA have been greatly oversold to the US farm sector. Climate change is not mentioned and the new treaty does nothing to curb the environmental damage that was part of the original NAFTA. NFFC dairy producers do not support dumping excess US milk on the Canadian or Mexican markets, as that will force family dairy farmers out of business in those countries. We instead call on Congress to support dairy supply management to deliver fair prices to farmers in all three countries.”

Dena Hoff, producer from Glendive, Montana, with NFFC member group Northern Plains Resource Council, said: “Without mandatory Country of Origin Labeling for beef, pork, and dairy, this agreement doesn’t support our producers. Imported meat labeled ‘Product of USA,’ betrays American ranchers, consumers, and our rural communities. Consumers deserve the right to know where their meat is from, and ranchers deserve the right to an honest market.”

COOL is critically important for family farmers and is popular with US consumers, providing market transparency for meat and dairy products. The provision was passed in the 2002 farm bill and revoked following a 2015 WTO complaint from Canada; NFFC and many family farmer and consumer groups advocated for its reinstatement as a basic requirement in a new North American trade deal.

The USMCA is a renegotiation of NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement, which became law in 1994. NAFTA’s negotiators offered similar promises to rural America, but instead the deal helped to push nearly 250,000 small and mid-scale family farms out of business, displaced millions of rural manufacturing jobs, and deregulated North American multinational corporations, which in turn have tightened their stranglehold on rural communities. The USMCA offers more of the same, missing the opportunity to address chronically low prices for independent family farmers, further solidifying corporate control in agriculture, and failing to support farmer resilience in the face of climate change and extreme weather. NFFC urges Congress and the White House to continue negotiating a regional trade agreement with provisions that prioritize the rights and interests of independent family-scale food producers, including COOL, strengthened antitrust provisions, and sensible rules on agricultural biotechnology and pesticides.

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Representing 30 farmer, rancher, fisher, and rural groups in over 40 states, National Family Farm Coalition mobilizes family farmers and ranchers to achieve fair prices, vibrant communities, and healthy foods free of corporate domination.

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