Monday, May 04, 2015

Fast Track a Bad Deal for U.S. Farmers and Food System

By Karen Hansen-Kuhn
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WASHINGTON, D.C.– Over 110 farm, food and consumer groups urged members of Congress in a letter today to oppose trade promotion authority or “fast track” legislation that would pave the way for trade agreements detrimental to farmers, ranchers and food systems, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

A fast track bill, expected to be introduced this week, would allow the President to negotiate two mega trade deals in secret, and present a final version to Congress for a simple up or down vote—depriving Congress of its right to amend the finalized agreement. The groups expressed concern that pending trade deals would primarily benefit agribusiness corporations and not address the key challenges facing farmers and rural communities.

Gary Bloss, a Pennsylvania farmer and Steering Committee member for the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group said “Farmers and rural communities in the Northeast stand to lose if we don’t have a say in how the TPP is negotiated. These farming economies are experiencing a revival, in part due to programs and policies that support local and regional food systems. We shouldn’t threaten this with bad international trade agreements.”

Proponents of fast track assert that future trade agreements will increase agricultural exports and jobs, but the letter calls such projections simplistic and inaccurate. The groups wrote, “Many of the same promises of expanding trade benefitting U.S. farmers and rural communities were made during the debates for NAFTA, CAFTA, and the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreements have failed to materialize. Instead, rural communities have been roiled by profound economic instability.”

(Continued here.)


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