Compost at a farm in Mexico.

Swimming Against the Tide

Mexico’s quest for food sovereignty in the face of U.S. agricultural dumping

May 15, 2023 | Source: IATP | by Timothy Wise

Download a PDF of this report here.

Executive summary

Since the beginning of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1994, Mexico has experienced a dramatic deterioration in its ability to grow its own food. This has been particularly true for basic grains and meats, foods that flooded Mexico with cheaper exports from the United States after NAFTA eliminated most of the trade restrictions Mexico had used to protect its farmers from foreign competition. Many of those U.S. exports were especially cheap because the U.S., during much of the post-NAFTA period, exported products at prices below what it cost to produce them, one definition of the unfair trade practice known as dumping.

As the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) has documented, in 16 of the 28 years since NAFTA took effect, the U.S. exported corn, soybeans, wheat, rice and cotton at prices 5-40% below what it cost to produce them. IATP refers to these percentages as dumping margins.