Global Meat Corporations Push for Sweetheart Trade Deal
The global meat industry views the Trans-Pacific Partnership as an opportunity to "undermine local, democratic control of agriculture systems" and increase factory-farmed meat exports around the world, charges a new report from the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy.
The report, Big Meat Swallows the Trans-Pacific Partnership (pdf), was released Friday in advance of next week's Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Beijing, at which world leaders are slated to discuss the international trade deal.
It examines attempts by big beef, pork, and poultry corporations like Cargill, Tyson, and JBS USA—who have long been influential in trade talks and who have profited from so-called free trade pacts in the past—to reduce tariffs, lower food safety standards, and weaken regulatory barriers in order to expand their export markets.
"Not mentioned by the industry is that tariffs are often an important tool to help countries protect their own farmers and retain control of their own food system—considered important for both food and national security."
—Ben Lilliston, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
"As growth in U.S. meat consumption has flattened or declined, much of the recent expansion in Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) in the U.S. is geared toward growing export markets," report author Ben Lilliston explains. "When combined with the voluminous feed demands for CAFOs (see this year’s record U.S. corn and soybean crop), more and more agricultural land is being used to feed industrialized meat production—making it more difficult for independent producers targeting local markets to compete. The global meat industry has already used trade rules to attack very basic consumer rights like country of origin labeling of food. These corporations view TPP as an important opportunity to further undermine local, democratic control of agricultural systems, and expand their reach globally."
For example, meat giants are targeting Japan—already one of their biggest markets, but also one with a variety of tariffs and safeguards on chicken, pork and beef to protect their own farmers and food system from a flood of imports. The National Pork Producers Council has called several times for Japan to be excluded from the TPP unless it drops its meat tariffs.
"TPP countries are already important export markets for the U.S. meat industry, but the industry believes that a new trade agreement would put those exports into overdrive," Lilliston writes. "In 2013, the U.S. exported more than $58 billion in food and agricultural exports to TPP countries, accounting for 72 percent of total U.S. agricultural exports, according to the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR). The USTR argues that number would increase dramatically with the elimination of tariffs under TPP. Not mentioned by the industry or USTR is that tariffs are often an important tool to help countries protect their own farmers and retain control of their own food system—considered important for both food and national security."
The TPP has already come under fire for threatening food sovereignty and small-scale agriculture in other ways, just as food and farming advocates say NAFTA has done.