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NFFC logo National Family Farm Coalition

110 Maryland Avenue, NE, Suite 307 · Washington, DC 20002 · 202/543-5675 · Fax: 202/543-0978 · Email:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE              Contact: Katherine Ozer, Exec. Dir.
(202) 543-5675 - DC office
Bill Christison, President
(660) 684-6456 - Missouri

Family Farmers Join Allies in Seattle for World Trade Organization events

A delegation of the National Family Farm Coalition (NFFC) have been attending events at the World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial in Seattle, Washington as part of the VIA CAMPESINA delegation. NFFC President Bill Christison marched with labor, environmental, and consumer allies leading the peaceful protest through the streets of Seattle on November 30, 1999.

The message delivered by NFFC in Seattle has been family farmers' strong support for a prominent voice for family farmers at the WTO proceedings and the need for each nation's food security to first be served by that individual nation's family farmers. In the United States, this means an immediate re-write of the 1996 Farm Bill since it has failed our nation's family farmers and consumers.

Bill Christison, President of the National Family Farm Coalition and the Missouri Rural Crisis Center further stated, "We should demand fair and equitable distribution among the exporting nations of the potential export market. It is of prime importance that family farmers of the world do not fall into the trap of producing genetically engineered products because of the health, environmental, social and economic problems which GMO's cause. Furthermore, consumers of the world do not wish to consume genetically engineered products. WTO should address international anti-trust law since the same multi-national corporations that seek to exploit family farmers need to be controlled."

There will be many voices of agriculture at Seattle this week. Organizations such as the American Farm Bureau Federation and the many commodity groups represented will line up with the multinational corporations trying to ensure future exploitation of family farmers around the globe. They speak for very few family farmers and certainly do not represent their best interest.

Family farmers represented through the National Family Farm Coalition are pleased to be standing together with family farmers from around the globe and our allies in the labor, environmental and consumer movements both in the U.S. and abroad who together are demanding a fair trade policy that works for citizens, not multi-national corporations.

Dena Hoff, Montana farmer representing the Northern Plains Resource Council and NFFC Trade Task Force Chair stated, "If `free trade' is to mean more than the exploitation of farmers, workers, and the environment, more than the exclusion of civil society from the debate, then the countries of the WTO must use their time in Seattle to renegotiate these agreements, to reverse the loss of our unique decentralized family farm system of agriculture. The myth of exports as the solution at any cost must be exposed. We need policies that protect family farmers against the whims and volatility of global agricultural markets which are anything but free."

The U.S. trade position on agriculture shall be redirected to emphasize an international system of shared food reserves and an internationally shared system of production cuts by exporting countries when world grain stocks become burdensome.

All countries should retain the right to develop farm programs that respond to the needs of their farmers and consumers. The World Trade Organization (WTO) should not force a change in domestic policies that threaten a country's food security and violates the interests of their population.


The National Family Farm Coalition is a network of family farm and rural advocacy organizations based in Washington, D.C. The Via Campesina is an international network of farm and peasant organizations of which NFFC is a member. For more information or to speak with farm leaders attending Seattle please contact the International Media Center at the Town Hall. Family farmer spokespersons are available at the Wednesday night Global Farmer Exchange at the Best Western Executive Inn and the Food and Ag Day events on Thursday December 2 at the United Methodist Church beginning with a media breakfast at 8:30 A.M.

For contact information to speak to farmer leaders around the country in Seattle please contact us through the DC office at (202) 543-5675.

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