Mexico’s Agricultural Economy Ravaged by “Free Trade” Policies

Nov. 18, 2003

Mexico’s Agricultural Economy Ravaged by “Free Trade” Policies

 

1.7 Million “Campesinos” Displaced as Low-Cost Corn, Wheat and Beef Imports Soar; U.S. Farmers also Suffer from Bad Agricultural Policy

MIAMI – Hundreds of thousands of Mexican farmers – campesinos – have been plunged into severe economic hardship as a result of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and other “free trade” policies, according to a report released today by Public Citizen and the Global Resource Action Center for the Environment (GRACE). Scores of U.S. farmers are also suffering due to a dramatic increase in low-cost agricultural imports.

The report, Unfair Trade, is being released as the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) Ministerial is held this week in Miami. The FTAA would vastly expand NAFTA by uniting 34 Western Hemisphere nations into a single market.

“Family farmers in both the U.S. and Mexico are suffering needlessly because of this agricultural crisis,” said Wenonah Hauter, director of Public Citizen’s Critical Mass Energy and Environment Program. “It is inconceivable that this situation can continue to be ignored by the government and corporate leaders who held up NAFTA as a savior to the Mexican farmer.”

“Instead of trade agreements designed to benefit only huge, multinational agribusiness corporations, farmers in Mexico, as well as in the U.S., need policies that help sustainable family farm-based agriculture,” said Alice Slater, president of GRACE. “It’s time to put a halt to the devastating effects of corporate agriculture on our environment, farmers and rural communities and move toward swift, positive reforms now.”

NAFTA has eliminated 99 percent of Mexico’s agricultural tariffs. Since NAFTA went into effect in 1994, the amount of corn dumped on the Mexican market has increased 15-fold. Similarly, the amount of U.S. beef going into Mexico has doubled, poultry has tripled and pork has quintupled. Farms by the hundreds of thousands have been driven into bankruptcy, creating havoc in the Mexican countryside. Three-fourths of the Mexican population now lives in poverty, up 80 percent since 1984.

In the United States, more than 38,000 small farms have gone out of business since NAFTA was implemented. The winter vegetable industry has been hit especially hard. Since 1994 the number of tomato farms in Florida has fallen from 230 to fewer than 100.

Click here to view Unfair Trade.

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