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Editor's note: President Bush says that free trade helps the poor. Yet nobody is really talking about free trade, but rather, regulated trade that benefits giant corporations while the poor and the middle class pay the price. Here's some facts, from the Agribusiness Examiner by E.V. Krebs:
Farm incomes plummeted and bankruptcies escalated in the U.S., Canada and Mexico while U.S. food prices increased 20% during the first seven years of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA,), and many large agribusinesses have seen record profits during the period. Up to 15 million campesinos throughout Mexico have lost a significant source of income and are threatened with losing their small corn farms.
During NAFTA, the rate of elimination of small U.S. farms with sales under $100,000 was six times greater than in the preceding 5 years. U.S. farm income is projected to decline 9 percent between 2000 and 2001, from $45.4 billion to $41.3 billion, compared to annual farm income of $59 billion before NAFTA.
Between the 1994-95 growing season & the 1999-2000 season: U.S. corn exports fell by 11% & prices fell by 20% - the volume of wheat exports declined by 8% & prices dropped 28% - cotton exports fell by 28% and prices plunged 38%.
In Mexico, crashing commodity prices caused by imports & the elimination of farm programs resulted in a massive transfer of land from small farmers to large corporations.
Giant agribusinesses made out like bandits. Archer Daniels Midland's profits nearly tripled from $110 million to $301 million & ConAgra's profits grew from $143 million to $413 million.
"As bad as NAFTA's seven years has been in the United States, the results for poverty-stricken Mexican farmers and consumers is horrific and puts to rest that myth that these trade deals benefit people in developing countries." www.tradewatch.org