Representatives of the NFU told those attending an international farm conference in Spain this week that the focus of global trade talks must change to the needs of family farmers in light of last month’s break down in negotiations at the Cancun Ministerial meeting in Mexico.

NFU members attending the 31st North American/European Union Agricultural Conference said the empowerment of farmers must be central to future global trade talks at the World Trade Organization. North Dakota Farmers Union President Robert Carlson, who chairs NFU’s Legislative Committee, said the Cancun Ministerial’s failure was not surprising.

“The talks stalled because they haven’t focused on the people they affect,” Carlson said. “We believe that farm income must be central to trade negotiations. Farmers must join together in a spirit of cooperation to stop the race to the bottom in commodity prices, which is destroying farm and rural economies in both developed and developing countries.”

The “race to the bottom” language on world commodity prices has become the central theme of NFU press releases on the Doha Round of World Trade Organization negotiations in recent weeks.

Wisconsin Farmers Union President Sue Beitlich, who also attended the conference, said it is clear that farmers are tired of being ignored by governments. “Farmers from more than 20 countries were here this week, and the message is the same the world over: trade that doesn’t improve net farm income is not worthwhile,” she said.

Also attending were NFU Counsel Dave Velde and NFU Administrative Vice President Clay Pederson, who also took part in a meeting of the executive committee of the International Federation of Agricultural Producers (IFAP) while in Spain. Pederson reiterated NFU’s support for trade negotiations that focus on raising farm income, providing global food security and ending world hunger.

IFAP also discussed funding opportunities for NFU’s proposal to conduct a global study on how agribusiness concentration affects farmers worldwide. “NFU believes that, because of the global reach of multi-national agribusinesses, their control of the food system can only be studied at a global level,” Pederson said.

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