Korea U.S. Free Trade Agreement – A Bad Deal for Family Farmers!
The Obama Admin. is now pushing hard to pass a rehashed version of the Korea U.S. Free Trade Agreement (Korea FTA), first proposed by the Bush Administration back in 2006. Unfortunately, this trade deal – like so many others – will just repeat the broken promises of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), bankrupting family farmers at taxpayer expense while lining the pockets of big banks and food giants.
With Korea FTA, Agribusiness Wins – While Family Farmers Lose
Farmers don’t export, corporations do. According to the proponents, the Korea FTA could lead to billions in export earnings. In fact, many of the agricultural products that will be exported to Korea under this trade deal are not even made with products from U.S. farmers, but from processing of other food imports! Worse yet, these agricultural exports are only “competitive” on the global market thanks to massive U.S. taxpayer subsidies.
As the case of NAFTA has shown, farmers in the U.S. and around the world are actually hurt by global food trade. Due to corporate control of the commodity markets and financial speculation in food prices, farmers seldom get even their cost of production, forcing them to go into debt, seek off-farm jobs, and fostering dependence upon taxpayer checks to avoid foreclosure.
Since NAFTA passed in 1994, U.S. farmers have seen their incomes steadily decline, while in Mexico an estimated 1.5 million farmers have been driven off their land and across the border – all this despite increased food trade between the two countries. Family farmers in the U.S. and Korea will suffer a similar fate under Korea FTA as corporate agribusiness drives down market prices for the sake of their own profit margins.
Forced Trade Will Lead to More Tension Between the U.S. and Korea
No one should be forced to import and consume food they don’t want. Yet, that is exactly what will happen under Korea FTA. May 2008 witnessed the largest anti-government protests in Seoul in over two decades – triggered by the Bush Administration’s crude attempt to force Korea to accept Mad Cow tainted beef that even U.S. consumers did not want to eat.
Now the Obama administration would risk repeating this terrible mistake by foisting on a loyal ally such dubious “junk food” exports as irradiated meat raised with synthetic hormones, genetically engineered crops, high fructose corn syrup condiments and confections, as well as adulterated cheese products made with untested milk protein concentrate (MPC). This is not only insulting to Korean consumers, but a disservice to U.S. family farmers who pride themselves on producing safe healthy food.
Time Out on Free Trade! Demand Fair Trade Instead!
Concerned citizens should contact their Congress people to oppose the Korea U.S. Free Trade Agreement. Family farmers can not afford to bear the costs of such misguided trade policies designed to benefit multinational corporations and no one else. It is time to let Pres. Obama know that the U.S. deserves a fair trade policy that respects family farmers and promotes food sovereignty instead.
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