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Public Citizen | NAFTA and Farmers and Agriculture - NAFTA, Farmers and Agriculture

NAFTA, Farmers and Agriculture

NAFTA's Seven Years War on Farmers in the U.S., Canada and Mexico


The North American Free Trade Agreement has had a track record of broken promises for family farmers and ranchers. These broken promises were made to win support during the 1993 Congressional debate over the fate of NAFTA. While farmers were promised they could export their way to lasting economic success, consumers were promised lower food prices. The promised benefits never materialized: farm income has declined, and consumer prices have risen while some agribusinesses -- which lobbied hard for NAFTA and now are avidly promoting its expansion -- have seen record profits.

NAFTA already has had a devastating effect on U.S. farmers and ranchers. Since NAFTA, the U.S. trade surplus in agricultural products, which once was the flagship of U.S. exports, has declined significantly, and that trend is most profound with NAFTA partners Canada and Mexico. While U.S. exports to Canada and Mexico have grown modestly, imports to the United States from those countries have grown much faster. Before NAFTA (between 1991 and 1994), the U.S. agricultural trade surplus with Mexico and Canada increased by $203 million. However, since NAFTA, the surplus fell by fell by $1.498 billion. Remarkably, the NAFTA agricultural product trade surplus has declined more rapidly than the U.S. worldwide trade surplus in agricultural products, falling 70.7% from $1.6 billion in 1993 to $456 million in 2000.

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