Fair trade or free trade? Let your voice be heard on Minnesota’s future!
The Obama Administration is negotiating two new mega trade deals (one with Pacific Rim countries, another with Europe) entirely in secret, with the goal of further expanding the NAFTA-model of free trade. These trade agreements could have major impacts on Minnesota's farmers, workers, small business owners and rural communities. They could limit Minnesota’s ability to support local food and energy systems and grow local businesses. In order to stay up to speed, Minnesota has set up a new Trade Policy Advisory Council (TPAC) to advise the state legislature and Governor.
TPAC wants to hear from Minnesotans: What concerns do you have about free trade? What role could TPAC play in the future? Now is your opportunity to have a say in our future trade policy. Complete the survey and let them know future trade negotiations should be public, not secret. Help ensure the voices of all Minnesotans are heard in the development of trade agreements and that they protect local control and our quality of life. The free trade model has failed for Minnesota and we need a new approach to trade. Help ensure the voices of all Minnesotans are heard before trade agreements are completed, and that they protect local control, our natural resources and our quality of life.
Posted February 20, 2012 by Bill Wenzel
Last November, Rep. Chellie Pingree, an organic farmer from Maine, introduced federal legislation that could have a profound impact on local food system development across the United States. The proposed legislation would make it easier for schools and institutional buyers to purchase locally grown foods and requires that various federal grants and loans be made available for local food system development. Other components would help food and farm entrepreneurs add-value to locally grown foods through the creation of processing, distribution, aggregation and marketing businesses. Identical legislation was introduced in the Senate by Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio. More than 65 Members of the House and Senate have now co-sponsored the legislation.
At a time when farmers and rural economies are struggling for survival and schools are trying to combat childhood obesity, the Pingree/Brown legislation (known as the “Local Farms, Food and Jobs Act”) can enhance farmer profitability, grow rural and urban economies through local food business development, and connect consumers with nutritious, locally grown food.
Minnesota has been a national leader in revitalizing our local and regional food system through new farmers markets, Farm to School and Farm to Hospital initiatives, healthy cornerstores, farmer engagement and new businesses that connect “farm to fork”. Recently, 39 Minnesota organizations and businesses representing farm, food, consumer and health groups signed a letter endorsing the Pingree/Brown legislation. Nationally, more than 220 organizations have endorsed the legislation. We hope that you will join us.
It’s time to cast your ballot in favor of healthy food, grown locally and sustainably, by producers who can restore economic vitality to our rural and urban communities. Call your elected officials and ask them to throw their support behind the Local Farms, Food and Jobs Act (S 1773/HR 3286). Read more about the Local Farms, Food and Jobs Act.