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REQUIRE READING: the TTP, local farming, and what you need to know

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On July 20th, as part of Maine Sail Freight events, the Greenhorns are hosting a training on the secret trade deal TTP and TTIP (Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) at a public waterfront park in Portsmouth’s Strawberry Banke.

If you can’t make it, this is your required reading: Maine Agriculture and Food Systems in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership

Why? Sometimes, it’s hard to even imagine that something as abstract-sounding as the Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership could affect small-scale agriculture in the United States. The reality, however, is that the proposed free trade agreement could have devastating repercussions throughout the entire United States food system. International trade agreements are, for better or worse, already intricately woven into our national food policy, federal food prices, and governmental regulations– and the TTP has the potential to further limit state and local sovereignty over markets.

The issue is complicated, and TTP talks have had limited transparency, but it is essential that farmers and food activists in the US understand what is at stake. Which is why we cannot more highly recommend this investigation on how the TTP would affect Maine Agriculture and Food Systems, co-authored by the Institute for Agricultural and Trade Policy and the Maine Farmland Trust as part of the Citizen Trade Policy Commission and Maine Fair Trade Campaign.

Ultimately the paper’s authors conclude that,

“It is impossible to accurately predict the real impacts of these changes in tariff and non-tariff barriers on specific sectors of agricultural production in Maine. The bigger question is how the changes that could result from TTIP would affect the state’s food sovereignty, i.e., farmers’ efforts to produce sustainable crops at fair prices, consumers’ demands for healthy and affordable foods, and their joint efforts to support local economies.”

The document is relatively short (given the complicated nature of the topic), easy to understand, and well-worth a committed read. The paper suggests that the trade agreement may have far-reaching and potentially catastrophic effects on many aspects of Maine’s agricultural sector including farm-to-school programs, attempts to support and promote local food systems, Maine dairy farmers and cheese producers, and GMO labelling initiatives. Though the assessment is geared specifically towards Maine, the issues it discusses are not unique to Maine alone, and it is useful for anyone looking to understand how international policy might affect domestic and local affairs.

Read it here!

The Maine Fair Trade Campaign’s next meeting is  Wed. July 15, 2015
Place: Viles Arboretum, 153 Hospital St, Augusta ME.

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