The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was passed in 1994. With the formation of the world’s largest free trade area, economic growth was soon to follow. Farmers would be exporting more than ever before, and consumers would be paying less. It would mean easier, cheaper trade for everyone involved! Well, that was the plan.
So, what happened? Why are farmers losing money every single year, while larger corporations are reporting higher profits? One of the side effects of the agreement was that many of the laws that protected farmers no longer held true. Instead, huge farming conglomerates now set prices with which local farmers have no chance of competing. The small farming families are slowly being pushed out of the business—a business they’ve been cultivating their entire lives.
Since NAFTA, the number of Canadian farms claiming bankruptcies has increased 500%. Farmers’ income declined 19% by 1999, even though prices skyrocketed. Something wasn’t working. The plan didn’t live up to its hype. Who was pushing this thing, anyway?