More than two decades ago founder of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, Mark Ritchie returned to the United States from a trip across Europe, during which he met with trade experts and farm leaders. His mission was to establish an organization that would investigate how international trade institutions influence farmers and rural communities.
Thus, with the international board composed of leaders from consumer and farm movements in Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, France, Brazil and Japan, the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy has resulted from the Geneva meeting, held in 1986. Since then all IATP activities have been arranged in compliance with the organization's goal, namely to adopt policies that would benefit consumers, farmers and rural communities.
Today as ever, IATP activities still aim at developing vital solutions to a range of the problems facing food systems and rural communities worldwide. By expanding its focus on such international policymaking institutions as the World Trade Organization, IATP strives to promote positive alternatives to socially and economically destructive trade and agricultural practices. This expanded focus enables the organization to co-operate with a more extensive list of partners. With offices and staff throughout the United States and Switzerland, it continues to enlarge the scope of its international partnership and adapt experiences and strategies that would assist local communities to meet challenges they face.
By co-operating with organizations worldwide, the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy analyzes how global trade agreements influence domestic farm policies. First and foremost, the IATP activities aim at advocating for fair trade policies, promoting the environment, democratic institutions, human and labor rights and heath standards. The organization is dedicated to the development of alternative economic models that would stimulate rural development and promote sustainable forest management.
This means that some of IATP activities focus on development of green business and farms, which will reduce toxic runoff into the Mississippi River and Great Lakes. In working towards healthy ecosystems and safe food, IATP strives to stop overuse of antibiotics both in aquaculture and agriculture, by limiting release of toxic pollutants entering the food supply. One of the organization's tasks is to monitor the impact of genetically engineered crops on human health, the environment and farmer income.
According to the recent IATP news reported in USA Today, four out of top ten poultry producers in the nations have reduced the amount of antibiotics used in their production. On April 2006, the founders, civil society partners and supporters of IATP will gather in Minneapolis to celebrate twenty years of hard work. The keynote speech will be given by author and long-time family farm supporter Jim Hightower. The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy will honor the outstanding international agricultural leader Dr. Edgard Pisani for his work on behalf of family-friendly agriculture, and Lucia Watson for her pioneering world as a local chef.