In June 1986 the leaders of farm and rural movements held a meeting in Geneva that focused on the deepening farm crisis and its impact on farmers and rural communities. It was evident that a great number of impediments that farmers in the United States had to face, were the same challenges for farmers in Africa, Asia and Europe, and that the International trade agreements exerted immense impact on local rural communities worldwide.
Thus, the Geneva meeting has resulted in the formation of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy to examine links between global policy and local communities. The organization was established by the small group of farm and rural leaders, who comprise today its board of directors.
In 1987 the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy began to report on the newly launched international trade negotiations, conducted by the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, known today as the World Trade Organization. Set in GATT and carried out at WTO, the rules of agricultural trade have influenced greatly national and local farm policies all over the world during the last two decades.
Since its creation, the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy has been an important player in analyzing international trade policy exploring the effect of these policies on local communities in the United States and abroad. In the early 1990s IATP has expanded beyond its focus on such policymaking institutions as the World Trade Organization to promote positive alternatives to environmentally, socially and economically destructive trade and agricultural practices.
Such enlarged focus provides the organization with the opportunity to co-operate with a larger number of partners. Thus, with the Center for Agriculture and the Environment in the Netherlands, the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy developed tools to assist farmers in the United States in increasing their income by reducing farm pollution. In this field the organization helped launch international efforts aimed at promoting certified sustainable forestry, fishing and farming and sustainable consumption. The ideas of IATP are implemented in actions to demonstrate the capacity of fair trade by establishing the international fair trade certification organization - Transfair USA, and launching the nationally consumed fair trade coffee brand - Peace Coffee.
With staff and offices in Netherlands and the United States, the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy continues to expand its international partnerships and adapting strategies, experiences and ideas from the global community to the changing needs of local communities. IATP co-operates with organizations worldwide to analyze the impact that global trade agreements have on domestic farm and food policies.
The organization advocates for such trade policies, which will promote first and foremost labor and human rights, strong health standards and democratic institutions. The IATP frames the activist network to push American corporations onto its politically correct trading model that includes importing more food items from sustainable growers in other countries.