As we continue to enjoy this harvest time and the richness and
abundance of the farmers’ labor, we reflect this month on
one of the root causes of poverty in developing countries. The free
trade agreements are harming farmers in the developing countries.
In the US, the government pays industrial sized farms billions of
dollars in subsidies. Timelines for free trade agreements are coming
up soon with Peru, Columbia, Thailand and Ecuador. According to
Oxfam, free trade agreements would make it easier for Northern agricultural
products to be shipped to these countries. This agricultural overproduction
and export dumping depresses prices in other countries and hurts
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The upcoming free trade agreement forces subsidized agricultural
imports on developing countries. Subsidized agriculture is causing
poverty by not supporting local farmers. In order for poverty to
become history, farmers in the developing world need markets to
sell their goods. International trade needs to reduce poverty not
worsen conditions for poor people. I urge you to reform the rules
of trade to help people out of poverty.
For more information contact:
Oxfam America at: www.oxfam.org
Bread for the World at: www.bread.org
World Health Organization at:
Background for letters:
-Proposed free trade agreements between the U.S. and countries
in Latin America and Asia could prove disastrous for small-scale
farmers, indigenous people, and women.
-Free trade agreements were written to benefit corporate interests,
such as agribusinesses and pharmaceutical companies with little
consideration given to the development needs of trading partners.
-Many poor people in developing countries depend on agriculture
for their livelihoods as well as affordable medicines to treat infectious
diseases like HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, or chronic illnesses
like diabetes and heart disease.
-International trade could help reduce poverty in developing countries,
but current trade agreements either written or discussed by trade
negotiators actually threaten to worsen conditions for poor people.
-In upcoming trade agreements being discussed with Peru, Columbia
and Ecuador, farmers who grow crops would be unable to compete with
heavily-subsidized, cheaper US crops entering their countries.
-In an agreement discussed with Thailand, small-scale corn and
soybean farmers are likely to face stiff competition with corn and
soybeans for the US. The US crops will be sold in the Thai market
for lower prices than domestic producers currently receive.