Trading away U.S. Farms: 'Fast Track' will Exacerbate Problems with U.S. Trade and Agricultural Policies that Continue to Hurt Farmers
Publication Date: September 2001
Publisher(s): Economic Policy Institute
Author(s): Robert E. Scott
The White House has asked Congress to put any negotiations leading to a Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) agreement and any trade deals it negotiates at the World Trade Organization on a legislative "fast track," meaning that Congress must simply vote the deals up or down, without amendment. In the meantime, Congress is now reviewing the performance of the 1996 Federal Agriculture Improvement and Reform (FAIR) Act for American farming, and it must decide whether to re-authorize the act in its original form or revise it.
Fast track supporters have claimed that trade arrangements such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the WTO, permanent normal trade relations for China, and the proposed FTAA are good for U.S. agriculture. But the current path is a dead end for American farmers, who have been exported to death in recent years, and it will lead to major problems for the U.S. trade agenda. U.S. agricultural and trade policies are in conflict, and both must change.
The first step toward rescuing American farmers and the U.S. trade agenda is a strategic pause in trade liberalization--including termination of all proposals for new fast track authority--until agricultural policy is refashioned into a sustainable and coordinated program that creates mechanisms that would enable farmers to earn a fair market price and encourages them to produce at levels that promote conservation, sustainable farming, and food security.