EFE NEWS SERVICE 02/11/2008
Mexican farmers cite surge in corn imports from U.S.
A group mainly representing Mexican family farmers denounced Monday that imports of white corn from the United States increased 384 percent after last month’s NAFTA-mandated end to trade barriers in agriculture.
ANEC, comprising some 50,000 grain farmers, said in a communique that imports of yellow corn from the United States soared more than 1,800 percent following full implementation of the agriculture clauses of the North American Free Trade Agreement, which has bound Mexico to the United States and Canada since 1994.
Last month showed total imports of 49,488 tons of white corn, the main crop of Mexican agriculture, while in 2007 during the same period only 10,222 tons of the same commodity were imported.
At the same time, according to ANEC citing government figures, imports of yellow corn for use as animal feed ascended to 751,000 tons in January, compared with 37,794 tons in the same month in 2007.
These figures "show the immediate harmful effects of NAFTA making corn completely duty free," ANEC head Victor Suarez said in the communique.
ANEC and several Mexican peasant sectors are opposed to NAFTA’s agricultural clauses, which besides corn makes trade in beans, milk and sugar duty free, because they feel that Mexico will lose its "agricultural sovereignty" by being inundated with U.S. products.
Growers of white corn "face the blackmail of purchasers," according to Suarez, because they are able to import corn from the United States or Canada in the quantity and at the time they decide, so they can pay Mexican producers any price they want.
In that sense, ANEC asked the government "to publish a presidential decree determining the mechanism for administering imports and exports of white corn and to order the creation of a reserve of corn for domestic consumption."
Suarez believes that "only in that way can we avoid speculation by those engaged in foreign trade, particularly the (U.S.-based) multinationals Cargill and Archer Daniels Midland and Mexican flour mills Maseca and Minsa".