Executive Direct Dana Geffner submitted the following testimony to the Oregon House Agriculture and Natural Resource Committee for an informational meeting that Rep. Brad Witt called. State officials are considering whether to write letters directly to the US Trade Representative or President Obama on issues in free trade policies like the Trans-Pacific Partnership that impact their state. As consumers, workers, farmers worldwide we all stand to lose from provisions in such policies and this type of local and regional analysis helps the picture of impact become clearer.
Representative Sal Esquivel, Vice Chair
Portland, OR 97242
May 21, 2013, 8:30 AM
Informational Hearing on the Trans-Pacific Partnership
My name is Dana Geffner, I live in Portland, Oregon. I am submitting testimony to express my strong concern over the lack of transparency in negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the potential negative impact of this policy on the people who produce our food. Family farmers and farm workers in North America and Europe are often confronted with unfair volatile prices, wages and working conditions like their counterparts in the Global South; we need to bring fair trade criteria home with “Domestic Fair Trade”.
Family-scale farmers in the Global North, including North America and Western Europe, face numerous challenges from corporate agribusiness, unfair domestic policies and so-called “free trade agreements.” Maintaining family farmers’ livelihoods is essential to national food security, rural community development and a safe and nutritious food system. Holding government agencies accountable, enacting fair trade policy and purchasing products from certified farmers contribute to efforts to support family farmers.
Past “free trade agreement” contain the NAFTA-style agriculture trade rules that have simultaneously undermined U.S. producers’ ability to earn a fair price for their crops at home and in the global marketplace. Multinational grain-trading and food-processing firms have made enormous profits, while farmers on both ends have been hurt. If this model continues with the Trans-Pacific Partnership, instead of establishing new agriculture terms, it would intensify the race to the bottom in commodity prices, pitting farmer against farmer and nation against nation to see who can produce food the cheapest, regardless of labor, environment or food-safety standards.