Two trade agreements, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) are the latest cause for concerns for our local farmers and food producers. Supporters of these two trade agreements are currently trying to push them through Congress and the White House is looking to be granted the authority to fast track them. I won’t go into what exactly “fast tracking” means but if you don’t know, I recommend searching it. The power our government has been given is frightening.

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The proponents of these trade agreements tout that they will increase U.S. jobs and promote economic growth by removing regulatory differences between the U.S. the E.U. and several Pacific nations, thereby fostering international competitiveness.

What detractors say is that these agreements will allow multi-national corporations that have invested in these partnerships to sue if they feel they are being discriminated against by state and national governments attempting to promote their own local economies and protecting their citizens from unsafe practices. The corporations would use a practice called “Investor-State Dispute Settlements,” defined in Wikipedia as “an instrument of public international law that grants a foreign investor the right to initiate dispute settlement proceedings against a foreign government.” Violations could result in the compensation to the “wronged” corporation in addition to trade sanctions imposed on the U.S. Once passed, they could only be changed if all participating nations agreed.

Why am I writing about this on CFAC’s blog you may ask? Because the laws and regulations that fall under TPP and T-TIP would include, among others, the governing of climate policies, food safety and food procurement.

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For instance, current U.S. import restrictions on certain foreign meat products would be rolled back. Standards set by state and local governments would be pushed aside to conform with new trade standards so as to comply with the agreements. There has already been talk that agri-giant Monsanto is itching for the passage of these agreements so as to quash the required labeling of genetically-modified organisms (GMOs). Are you as excited about Montana Public Schools’ recent initiatives to feed their students locally grown food as I am? If these agreements pass, a mulit-national agriculture corporation could come in and sue the school systems for offering local farmers preferential treatment.

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I have a strong distaste for writers who strike fear in my heart and then leave me hanging. So after all this, what can you, as an ordinary citizen do to help?

First, educate yourself. Don’t take my word for it, or any other person for that matter. If what I have told you has peaked your interest, take some time to learn about these agreements and decide how you feel about them. I knew very little about the T-TIP and TPP before researching this blog. However, after about an hour on the internet I had read both sides and learned a great deal.

Second, I know we hear this time and time again, but contact your local congressmen to let them know how you feel. There are also several online petitions to sign in expressing your concern.

Finally, continue to do what you probably already do. Support your local farmers and producers through buying local and being an avid supporter – not only with your words, but with your actions.

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This blog post was written by CFAC volunteer Susie Wall. If you have interest in volunteering to write blog posts, please contact us today.