Speculative Trading in Soft Commodity Markets (APRIL 2016)
G. Ryan Siegel
The topic undertaken for the U.S. Agricultural Policy practicum looked into how food financialization has altered the stability of commodity prices. Specifically, I conducted a literature review on the topic of speculative trading and its impacts on soft commodity (food) prices. The literature on the topic proved to be diverse, with academics and researchers disagreeing on many aspects of what has caused recent food price fluctuations. My paper synthesizes these arguments, as well as covers methods on how to hedge against market fluctuation. Further, alternative factors influencing price change are covered, such as asymmetric shocks, and demand increases stemming from developing countries. It concludes with a summary of the research, and how farmers are affected by price fluctuations.
FREE TRADE IN CENTRAL AND NORTH AMERICA: AGRARIAN CRISES AND OUTWARD MIGRATION (May 2015)
Neoliberal trade policies in Central and North America have altered food systems, resulting in outward migration. Both NAFTA and CAFTADR promised increased economic opportunities, primarily through manufacturing jobs, with open trade borders providing an influx of cheaper goods. These benefits in turn would reduce migration pressures. Nevertheless, NAFTA and CAFTA-
DR have contributed to rural, agrarian crises by increasing agribusiness control and eliminating government support for smallholder farmers. As a result, agricultural trade imbalances have in- creased, with Mexico and Central American countries becoming more dependent on the United States. Food prices and choices have widely changed, compromising food security and sover- eignty. Millions of campesinos have been forced to transition to export crops, sell their properties to agribusiness, relocate to cities or migrate abroad in search for a new livelihood. As such, free trade agreements have done little to improve economic situations for the most vulnerable. Future trade deals based on NAFTA style agreements will only perpetuate inequalities.
Acknowledgements: Border Farmworker Center and la Mujer Obrera in El Paso, TX
TRANSATLANTIC TRADE AND INVESTMENT PARTNERSHIP: A TRADE AGREEMENT THAT THREATENS EXISTING GMO REGULATIONS AND UNDERMINES DEMOCRACY (APRIL 2014)
Anna Meyer and Jessica Walton
The rights of nations, states and local governments to regulate threats to their citizens, ecosystems and economies should be stronger than international trade ties that benefit large corporations. The regulation of labeling and cultivating genetically modified organisms is possible at each of these scales of governance, but these hard-won victories are at risk of being overridden by the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. This proposed agreement between the United States and European Union aims to harmonize trade between these major global economies in many sectors, including agriculture. However, history has shown that harmonization often defaults to standards at the lowest common denominator. At the local level, it translates to loss of the peoples’ right to participate in shaping democracy in favor of corporate influence and economic gains. The agreement also has the potential to negatively impact international markets beyond the US and EU that have banned GMOs.
SUPPLY-MANAGED DAIRY POLICY A U.S. AND CANADIAN COMPARISON: WHERE HAVE ALL THE DAIRY FARMERS GONE? (APRIL 2014)
Dairy farmers in the US and Canada have reason to be apprehensive about their futures. Over the last 50 years both countries have seen the dramatic restructuring of their respective dairy industries at all levels. In the past, dairying was an operation that depended heavily upon both human and animal labor. However, today, from cow to consumer, the dairy industry is fully-mechanized. In addition, in recent decades, international trade regimes have galvanized influence over domestic dairy markets. Supply management policies are receiving much wider attention today in response to the ebb and flow of global dairy production. This research outlines transformation regarding the US and Canadian dairy industries, with an emphasis on class, state/provincial, and (inter)national struggle.
LAND GRABBING AND FARM SWAPS
ERICA CHRISTENSEN AND SARAH HOWELL
“Land grabbing” – a recently created term used to describe the large-scale acquisition of land by foreign governments or industry—has been occurring globally at greater frequency and also in greater amounts. While the international land grabbing phenomenon has been discussed at length, not much attention has been paid to the land grabbing of American soils. The need for increased energy efficiency, sustainability, and independence has put pressure on those seeking alternative fuel sources from our lands. American farmland, which once produced commodities and food for human consumption, is now being swapped for shale gas exploration.
The following maps were created to help visualize this "farm swap" in Pennsylvania, which is a current hotbed of natural gas development and significant agricultural producer.