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Consequences of US Farm Policy on Mexico Farmers

The news that surrounded last week's visit to Mexico by President Obama regarding Mexican corn farmers may have come as a surprise to some but not to those that have followed the issue since the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

 Several interviews were broadcast on the U.S. television news services which highlighted the fact that Mexican farmers cannot compete with subsidized corn imported from the U.S.  These farmers were forced to move into the makeshift dwellings in the shadows of Mexico City.  As advocates for family farmers, in the U.S. and abroad, AAM has worked to make this catastrophe known and has worked with Congress in an attempt to correct the injustice for many years.

 As we know, NAFTA eliminated Mexican import restrictions on U.S. corn.  Soon after the ratification of NAFTA, Freedom to Farm eliminated the floor price mechanism for U.S. corn.  Not long after that our Washington policy makers decided not to segregate or label genetically modified corn and we lost our corn export markets to the European Union, Japan and South Korea.  The net result was a large volume of cheap U.S. corn dumped onto the Mexican farmers' markets. This in turn displaced hundreds of thousands, possibly millions of Mexican farmers, causing many to illegally cross into the United States to find work to support their families.

 Supporting corn prices at the market with a fair loan rate would be a much better option than our current system of paying subsidies that allowed cheap corn to steal the livelihoods of Mexican farmers, gave the American taxpayer a bill for corn subsidies and illegal immigration. Even if we do not care about the monetary cost, the moral shame is ours to bear.

 This is just another example of the indirect and unintended consequences of U.S. farm and trade policy.  But more importantly, this atrocity is another example of the reason all family farmers need and deserve a fair price for the fruits of their labor, not taxpayer subsidies.

 We may not be able to overturn NAFTA or put the GMO Genie back into the bottle.  But we can reestablish fair prices for U.S. famers with better farm policy and in turn help the farmers of Mexico and the world.  AAM works to keep farm and ranch families on the land - everywhere.