“Our natural heritage – including forests, fisheries, food, minerals and water - must be separated and protected from the entire trade liberalisation agenda. There should be no question, for example, of sensitive environmental sectors such as forests and fisheries being included in the WTO’s non- agricultural market access (NAMA) negotiations. Neither should energy and water services be included in its services agenda.” (Friends of the Earth, 2005, p. 35)
What is the problem?
Free Trade Agreements often remove the ability of less powerful countries to use tariffs or subsidies to protect domestic agriculture, while leaving the open or hidden agricultural subsidies of more powerful countries intact. This can stop the less powerful country from taking action to ensure fair and sustainable livelihoods for its agricultural workers.
What is the idea?
Establish community and local partnerships to protect sustainable agriculture from Free Trade Agreements and to foster the development of alternative agro-ecological production.
Where has it been tried?
Who recommends it?
Friends of The Earth
How has it been done?
• Communities, farmers, indigenous peoples and organisations are establishing partnerships - such as the Agrovida Association in the García Rovira region.
• This helps to promote organic production and local regional markets, ensure fair prices, and protect traditional seed varieties.
• These local markets create new relationships between urban and rural people, improve their quality of life and restore a degree of autonomy and sustainability to communities.
• Ultimately, they will form the Foundation of Food Sovereignty in Colombia. 'Food Sovereignty' primarily indicates the protection of locally produced or nationally produced food and resources, avoiding the influence of special interests from external bodies and corporate lobbyists for their clients provisions. Here is a link for more information on the Columbian local partnerships: http://www.foe.org.au/resources/publications/trade-and-globalisation/tyranny.pdf
Where can it be implemented?
The decreasing amount of locally owned farm industries is the result of the harsh effects of climate change, which has caused vast areas of farmland to be inadequate for harvesting and resulted in a significant amount of livestock to wither. Consequently, small farming industries have succumbed to being bought out by larger organisations, in the process of amalgamating smaller farms to establish larger industries. This has lead to increased unemployment in rural areas, and increased prices on the cost of agricultural goods. The influx of farmers and their families from abandoned farmlands, applies immense pressure on goods, services and employment opportunities in regional districts. Therefore, the local partnerships idea could potentially be a solution to the dire circumstances of rural areas in Australia. Community programs, local organisations, and NGOs can formulate bonds with local banks, and existing local industries to re-establish a community based trading system, that cannot be influenced or dominated by corporate interests.