Target: Juan Manual Santos, President of Colombia
Goal: Improve the economic conditions of Colombian farmers
The Colombian government should make the financial well-being of its farmers a policy priority. After entering into free trade agreements with Europe and the United States, Colombia has plunged the farming industry into a state of chaos. Finding themselves unable to compete with cheap imports, the farmers’ profits were suddenly too meager to cover their operation costs. While it is admirable that Colombia has endeavored to bolster its economic growth by concluding trade deals that would allow more of its products to be competitive on the foreign market, the country’s leadership must maintain a balanced approach that does not devastate the farming sector.
To remedy the inability of the farmers’ output to compete with the influx of foreign goods, the government should put together a comprehensive aid package. First of all, it should make good on its pledge to buy up excess production. After all, a farmer shouldn’t have to suffer when his output is suddenly out of demand due to increased market competition. If consumers have chosen to purchase the newly imported foreign stock of potatoes, milk, and corn, the local farmers still need to recuperate the costs of supplies and labor. (It goes without saying that letting unsold foods perish for lack of customers is a shameful waste of resources.) Also, as the farmers’ profits have fallen, the government must do all it can to reduce their production expenses. To that end, it should follow through with the promise to remove import tariffs on fertilizers; the savings accrued to the farmers through lower fertilizer costs might offset some of financial losses incurred as a result of the new trade agreements. Most importantly, Colombia should implement a subsidies program that consistently guarantees that farmers will receive government grants to compensate for their inability to compete with imports.
Colombia cannot afford to simply stand by and watch as its farming industry comes to ruin. Not only because this outcome is an economic disaster in the making that could condemn thousands of people to a sudden loss of what was previously reliable income, but also because it represents a national security threat. A nation that does not produce its own food will expose its people to the risk of starvation if market fluctuations lead to the decreased affordability of certain food items or if emergency conditions suddenly cut off foreign supplies.
As it is clear that Colombia needs the output of its farming sector to secure its existence, the state should buttress its financial viability by protecting it against the ravages of globalization. Please sign this petition to appeal to the Colombian president to make the well-being and prosperity of his country’s farmers a cornerstone of his economic policy.
Dear Juan Manual Santos, President of Colombia
Please implement a series of measures to compensate farmers for the lost income brought about by the increased import of goods that flooded the country after it has entered into free trade agreements with the United States and Europe. The failure to take such measures will precipitate a sizable segment of the population into poverty, a catastrophe that no president should allow to happen on his watch. A government’s first responsibility is to prevent the suffering of thousands of its citizens; choosing not to offer farmers the assistance they so desperately need amounts to nothing less than heartless neglect of the very people whose interests and well-being the politicians are bound to serve and promote.
That is why the political leadership should do everything in its power to lift the farming sector out of its economic doldrums. It should fulfill its promise to buy excess production that hardworking farmers haven’t been able to sell, help them keep more of their income in their pockets by reducing operating costs — a remedy that would involve the elimination of import tariffs on fertilizers. Most importantly, it should implement a subsidy program that would guarantee a fixed, reliable income for farmers over the long-term by offering them government grants to make up for the income deficits they have had to face as a result of the influx of foreign goods. If all these conditions are met, Colombia will not only save its farming sector from a precipitous decline but will also guarantee its national security. The availability of local crops, dairy, and meat will ensure that the population will always have access to a reliable food supply regardless of market fluctuations or delivery problems caused by emergencies.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: M. DeFreese/CIMMYT via Flickr