Commodities: International Trade
In 2006, Vandana Shiva was interviewed by Amy Goodman about the epidemic of farmer suicides in India. Shiva cited two causes: rising production prices due to hybrid and GM seeds that must be purchased every year (and used with costly chemicals in the case of GM seeds), and low prices due to America dumping cheap commodities on the world market. When America uses subsidies to lower commodity prices, farmers all over the world suffer. The two possible solutions are: 1) allow other countries to put tariffs on American commodities to protect their domestic farmers or 2) find a way to restructure the safety net America provides its farmers so artificially low commodity prices are not the result.
A safety net for American farmers IS necessary, as a stable and safe food supply is a matter of national security. The safety net is currently structured in a way that hurts farmers around the world but it can be accomplished in a way that does not hurt farmers in other countries if we returned to a system in which the government set a price floor and managed the amount of supply available on the open market.
More informationH.R. 6180: Trade Reform, Accountability, Development & Employment (TRADE) Act (PDF) (bill) 2008 House bill introduced by Rep. Mike Michaud and Rep. Linda T. Sanchez.
MP3: Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN) Talking About Free Trade (news piece) May 2008. Rep. Peterson, chair of the House Ag committee, proves that he has at least ONE issue that he's right about (trade).
S. 3083: Trade Reform, Accountability, Development & Employment (TRADE) Act (PDF) (bill) 2008 Senate bill introduced by Senators Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH).