Daily News Archive
From June 26, 2001

Farmers Hurt by NAFTA

Public Citizen yesterday released a media advisory stating: "During the 1993 NAFTA debate, U.S. farmers and ranchers were promised that the pact would bring a lasting solution to farmers' struggles and benefit them by opening new export markets. Now, seven years later, the evidence shows that farm incomes have declined, consumer prices have risen and some of the largest agribusiness companies have reaped huge profits. New NAFTA food imports, meanwhile, have greatly outpaced new exports. The report comes as Congress begins debate on whether to renew "Fast Track" trade negotiating authority for the president. The administration wants to use this authority to expand NAFTA through an agreement called the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA). But the anger of U.S. farmers who produce grains, meats, vegetables and fruits over declining commodity prices and farm income could be the determining factor in these major trade fights."

Their latest report, released last Tuesday, comes as the Bush administration is pressing Congress to grant President Bush "fast track" trade authority, which would help create the Free Trade Area of the Americas, a trade pact that would include almost every nation in the Western Hemisphere.

The report notes that commodity prices have plunged worldwide since NAFTA was enacted in 1994, with corn prices falling 24 percent, wheat prices dropping 28 percent, and cotton prices declining 38 percent over the last seven years.

"There were lots of promises," said Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch. "But the real actual life experience shows that instead of the benefits we were promised, there have been problems."