Mexico opium poppy growers see price drop, turn to marijuana

06/22/18 The Washington Post

opium_poppy_field_-_mexicoOpium poppy growers in southern Mexico who helped fuel the U.S. heroin epidemic say prices for their product have been driven so low — apparently by the use of synthetic opioids like fentanyl — that they are turning in desperation back to another crop they know well: marijuana.

Beset by poverty and joblessness, farmers in the hills around the Guerrero state hamlets of Tenantla and Amatitlan say that prices for opium paste — which oozes from the bulbs of poppies after they’re cut — have fallen so low they don’t even pay for the cost of planting, fertilizing, irrigating, weeding and harvesting the raw material for heroin.

One local farmer points to a former opium poppy field tucked into the fold of steep hillside. The dried stalks of the poppy plants from last year’s harvest can be seen sticking out among the 2- and 3-foot-tall stands of marijuana planted this year.

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Exclusive: Mexico studies tariffs on billions of dollars of U.S. corn, soy

06/14/18 Reuters

corn farmMexico could strike at $4 billion in annual imports of U.S. corn and soybeans if President Donald Trump escalates a trade spat with new tariffs, officials told Reuters this week, and it is studying how to reduce the pain of such a move.

Earlier this month, Mexico swiftly retaliated when Trump imposed metals tariffs, hitting dozens of American imports including steel, apples and pork.

But it held back from the most lucrative class of U.S. farm products: grains, especially feed corn and soybeans, used to fatten Mexico’s cows, hogs and chickens.

Imposing such tariffs would be a last-ditch option hitting at U.S. corn farmers’ top export market, and such a move would hurt Mexico’s own industry. But it has already been increasing its imports of grains from suppliers like Brazil and Argentina that could enable it to lessen the impact.

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Washington apple farmers brace for impact after Mexico imposes tariffs on U.S. imports

06/05/2018 The Seattle Times 

Washington’s apple growers are looking for new markets to make up for the expected loss of business after Mexico, their biggest export customer, imposed tariffs on purchases, a a growers’ representative said.

Mexico announced Tuesday it will levy tariffs on imports of U.S. products. The order stipulates charges of 15 percent to 25 percent on U.S. farm goods including pork, cheese, apples and potatoes, bourbon whiskey and cranberries. The move follows a U.S. decision to impose tariffs on imports of Mexican steel and aluminum purchases, which took effect on Friday.

Washington exports apples valued at $200 million to $250 million to Mexico every year, representing 10 percent of its total market, Todd Fryhover, president of the Wenatchee-based Washington Apple Commission, said Tuesday morning. That makes it by far the biggest market for the state’s apples.

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Business Hates Mexico’s Presidential Front-Runner. And He Doesn’t Care

05/09/2018 Bloomberg

Source: Eneas De Troya, Flickr

Andrés Manuel López Obrador, sharing a stage with crates of coconuts and limes, looks out upon a crowd of thousands: a sea of sombreros bobbing in the sun. They’re farmers, mostly—or used to be, before the North American Free Trade Agreement upended the old traditions here in the Mexican heartland. Now, many take whatever jobs they can find and lament that so much corn, Mexico’s iconic national crop, is now imported from the U.S.

López Obrador—or AMLO, as he’s widely known—assures the crowd that their dreams of returning to their farms are within reach. After he wins the presidential election on July 1, he says, he’ll provide them with free fertilizer and cheap fuel, and he’ll establish minimum price guarantees for homegrown crops. The fields here in the central Mexican state of Zacatecas will spring back to life, which will provide people with jobs and, in turn, stem the outward flow of migrants to America. But for this chain of prosperity to kick in, there’s one condition: An electoral deathblow must be struck against the ruling political class, a group López Obrador references in terms this rural audience appreciates.

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Trump Has Come to See Nafta’s Benefits, Agriculture Secretary Says

01/17/2018 Bloomberg

pexels-photo-175389.jpegPresident Donald Trump has come to see that Nafta has some benefits to the U.S., particularly for farming, even as he stays firm in his demand for a new deal, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said.

Trump “probably left the campaign trail literally believing that Nafta had not been good for any sector of the economy,” Perdue said in an interview at his office on Wednesday in Washington. But “I think that he has now come to realize that agriculture has been benefited by a Nafta agreement.”

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Trump loves farmers but keeps them guessing on NAFTA strategy

01/08/2018 Politico

corn farmPresident Donald Trump on Monday delivered a campaign-style speech to thousands of farmers that largely dodged one of the most pressing concerns in agriculture — whether Trump intends to blow up the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Farm leaders have lobbied the administration and pleaded with the president to tread carefully in the ongoing renegotiation of the free-trade agreement with Canada and Mexico because the agricultural sector has arguably more to lose than any other segment of the economy if trade relations sour in North America.

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Farmers in Mexico’s avocado heartland are relying on vigilantes to protect their ‘green gold’

12/6/2017 Business Insider

AvocadosGlobal demand for avocados has grown considerably in recent years, and Mexican farmers have been a major beneficiary, declaring the crop “green gold.”

Mexico produces about 45% of the world’s avocados, and the western state of Michoacan is the country’s top producer. But Michoacan has also been a locus for organized crime, and the state’s residents have suffered as criminal groups overwhelmed and corrupted authorities.

Vigilantes, called self-defense groups or autodefensas, cropped up in the state to fight off criminal groups when local and federal authorities were unable or unwilling to do so.

Many of those autodefensas have been dismantled by the government or co-opted by criminal groups. But in the municipality of Tancitaro — home to 30,000 people in western Michoacan — residents set up their own specialized police force: the Tancitaro Public Security Corps.

Many Mexicans consider Tancitaro to be the “authentic” world capital of avocados.

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