Top U.S. Farm Group Warns Against Upending Nafta

10/10/2017 Bloomberg

corn farmThe head of the top U.S. agriculture group said farmers want “a seat at the table” in trade talks to prevent a collapse of deals that would harm their exports, joining the nation’s biggest business lobby in warning against upending the North American Free Trade Agreement.

“We can’t sit aside while other countries work out trade deals among themselves,” Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation in Washington, said in a conference call announcing the group is joining of Farmers for Free Trade, an umbrella group of agricultural organizations and agribusiness promoting exports.

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American retailers, restaurants oppose U.S. NAFTA produce proposal

08/31/2017 Reuters

NAFTA_logoWASHINGTON (Reuters) – American retail, restaurant and agriculture groups weighed in on Thursday against a U.S. NAFTA modernization proposal that could pave the way for U.S. seasonal produce growers to file anti-dumping cases against Mexico, according to letters sent to Trump administration officials.

Talks to overhaul the North American Free Trade Agreement resume this weekend in Mexico, the second round after U.S. President Donald Trump’s renewed threats to withdraw from one of the world’s biggest trade blocs.

In one letter seen by Reuters, sent to U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer on Thursday, retailers argued that the U.S. proposal to allow more complaints about the dumping of perishable produce would have “dangerous implications for U.S. businesses and consumers.”

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Elderly Mexican villagers cling to town, fight plans to flood land

08/22/2017 Reuters

jaliscoTEMACAPULÍN, Mexico (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Abigail Agredano fears her 96-year-old mother would not survive being uprooted from their hometown in the highlands of western Mexico, where its 400 mostly elderly residents are battling a government plan to dam the nearby Río Verde.

“If they manage to force us out, I think she and many others would die immediately,” Agredano, head of the Committee to Save Temacapulín, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Damming the Río Verde would supply water for major urban areas in the state of Jalisco and neighboring Guanajuato but leave Temacapulín and the smaller villages of Palmajero and Acasico underwater.

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Mexico No Longer No. 1 Buyer of U.S. Corn After Trade Tensions

7/6/2017 Bloomberg

corn by World Bank Photo Collection
Photo by World Bank Photo Collection

U.S. corn shipments to Mexico are faltering and the country is no longer the biggest importer, a sign that trade tensions are driving it into the arms of other suppliers.

Sales to Mexico through May were $1.04 billion, down 6.7 percent from a year earlier, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said Thursday in a monthly update. That contrasts with the 32 percent increase for the overall value of U.S. corn exports in the period, during which the average dollar value of the commodity was little changed. Japan boosted its purchases 53 percent to $1.19 billion to become the largest importer of American corn.

Mexico has initiated talks with other major corn exporters this year after it was criticized by President Donald Trump, who said the country has taken advantage of its northern neighbor through the North American Free Trade Agreement, taking away jobs and investment. The dispute helped to send the Mexican peso to a record low against the dollar in January.

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Mexico says NAFTA agriculture ministers to meet next week

6/14/2017 Reuters

23854071503_8135901142_b.jpg
Canadian Minister of Agriculture Lawrence MacAulay. Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture/Flickr

Mexico’s agriculture minister will visit the United States next week to meet with his U.S. and Canadian counterparts to begin talks on renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement, the Mexican government said on Wednesday.

Mexico’s Jose Calzada will meet U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and Canadian Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay during a visit from June 19 to 22 to Perdue’s home state of Georgia, the agriculture ministry said in a statement.

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Mexico’s Native Crops Hold Key to Food Security, Ecologist Says

Mexico’s ancient civilizations cultivated crops such as maize, tomatoes and chilies for thousands of years before the Spanish conquerors arrived — and now those native plants could hold the key to sustainable food production as climate change bites, said a leading ecologist.

José Sarukhán Kermez, who helped set up Mexico’s pioneering National Commission for the Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity (CONABIO), said that analyzing the genetic variability of traditional crops, and supporting the family farmers who grow most of the world’s food offered an alternative to industrial agriculture.

“We don’t need to manipulate hugely the genetic characteristics of these [crops] … because that biodiversity is there — you have to just select and use it with the knowledge of the people who have been doing that for thousands of years,” said Sarukhán, CONABIO’s national coordinator, in a telephone interview.

The emeritus professor and former rector of the National University of Mexico (UNAM) recently won the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement, often referred to as a “Nobel for the Environment.”

Making use of the knowledge held by indigenous groups is “absolutely essential,” Sarukhán told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

That requires working with a wide range of people, from local cooks to small-scale farmers, especially in states like Oaxaca and Chiapas in the south of Mexico where indigenous farmers have a strong traditional culture, he said.

“They haven’t gone to university, and they don’t have a degree — but they damn well know how to do these things,” he said.

For example, they discover and incorporate new knowledge as they exchange seeds with peers from different areas.

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Mexico sugar lobby says still wants dumping probe of U.S. fructose

6/7/2017 Reuters

Sugar
Flickr/Coralie Ferreira

Mexican sugar producers still want an investigation into suspected dumping in Mexico by U.S. fructose producers even after a U.S.-Mexico deal on access to the U.S. market for Mexican sugar, the head of the Mexican sugar industry group said on Wednesday.

The sugar lobby last month said it had asked the Mexican economy ministry to investigate U.S. high fructose corn syrup imports, saying there was “solid” evidence of dumping.

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