Agricultural production on Oahu has been significantly impacted by trade agreements.
Farmershave already relocated to new land for more than 900 acres, and they must adjust their crop varieties to be successful. Despite the fact that the agricultural sector is predominantly pro-trade, there are many farmers who disagree. From tomato producers in Florida to ranchers in Montana, some farmers have been negatively affected by NAFTA, believing it has favored agribusiness over small farms, reduced environmental regulations, and hindered competition against cheaper imports. The White House plans to review the treaty in talks that will begin in August.
Free trade advocates argue that there are always winners and losers in globalization, but in general, profits outweigh losses.
Farmersmay see more competition, but consumers get lower food prices. However, this argument has been met with skepticism from Rust Belt workers who were left behind due to globalization and rural areas that have not seen the takeoff of agricultural exports. Donald Trump's promises to destroy NAFTA resonated with many people, helping him reach the White House. For Florida fruit and vegetable producers, the stakes in a NAFTA renegotiation are even greater, as fruits and vegetables from Mexico grown in winter flow north.
Florida producers have reduced the number of acres planted with tomatoes by 25 percent under NAFTA, even though Mexico has increased production by 230 percent. The National Farmers Union highlights this disparity. According to Roger Johnson, President of the Farmers Union, the net effect of trade agreements such as NAFTA is to give more power and authority to large multinational companies and take that power away from family farmers. Johnson pointed out that the world's main meat packers operate across the borders of Canada, the United States and Mexico, and take production to the places where the costs are lowest. In a similar example, some of the tomato and berry imports that Florida producers complain about are produced in the United States. Mexico's traditional subsistence agriculture has shifted to large-scale production operations in the north, while Mexican livestock production has become industrialized as multinational companies such as Tyson, Cargill and Pilgrim's Pride have opened operations. The World Trade Organization (WTO), which was established in 1994 to accelerate globalization, has had a major impact on farmers in the three NAFTA countries.
Today, only four U. S. companies control 85 percent of the beef industry, and the largest of them, JBS, is Brazilian. JBS runs Pilgrim's Pride, a poultry company with operations in the United States and Mexico. Dena Hoff, a grain and livestock farmer from eastern Montana and co-regional coordinator of La Via Campesina (a farmers' rights group), believes that NAFTA is an unfulfilled promise.
Lynn Clarkson (a grain merchant) points out that President Trump's criticism of companies that move American jobs to Mexico ignores the broader issue of consolidating agriculture and trade. Stockton (a Montana sheep farmer) is skeptical of the upcoming renegotiation. He questions whether citizens will have an opportunity to contribute their opinion in the negotiation process. He believes that President Trump will not negotiate something beneficial for everyone; it will be cosmetic. It is clear that trade agreements have had a significant impact on farmers, both positively and negatively. While some farmers have seen increased profits due to increased access to foreign markets, others have seen their livelihoods threatened by cheaper imports or large multinational companies taking over their markets.
It is important for farmers to stay informed about upcoming trade negotiations so they can make sure their voices are heard. It is also important for consumers to understand how trade agreements affect agricultural production on Oahu. By understanding how these agreements impact farmers' livelihoods and food prices, consumers can make more informed decisions about what they buy and where they buy it from.