Peru Agriculture Ministry announces new regulations ahead of FTA

Agriculture Minister Ismael Benavides announced on Monday that his ministry will implement 20 new regulations intended to help Peru’s agricultural industry adapt to the free trade agreement with the United States. The regulations will be implemented by the end of March, reported daily El Comercio.

The first regulation will reportedly restructure the ministry and its decentralized offices, including the National Institute for Agrarian Research and the National Service for Agrarian Health. Promoting the forestry industry, cattle farming and further agricultural investment in the Andes will also be key goals, Benavides added.

“As well, we’ll define the responsibilities that were part of the Agriculture Ministry and which will now form part of the new Environment Ministry,” said Benavides.

He said the government will also encourage small-scale farmers to join forces in new cooperatives to take advantage of the FTA. “The creation of an association to help farmers access the benefits from the commercial liberalization of the country, and consequently facilitating foreign commerce for the agricultural products, are other relevant topics,” said Benavides. He said the ministry is working with the National Convention for Peruvian Agriculture, Conveagro, on some of the regulations.

The U.S.-Peru FTA, which was signed into law Dec. 14 by President George W. Bush, promises to create profound changes in Peru’s agriculture sector. But critics say it will jeopardize the livelihood of thousands of Peruvian farmers. The Agriculture Ministry is taking measures it says will help economic difficulties arising from the influx of heavily subsidized U.S. exports.

For example, along with the new regulations announced yesterday, the Agriculture Ministry has also promised to invest $300 million this year in order to improve the sector’s productivity. As well, in early December, the National Program for Watershed Management and Soil Conservation announced it would educate 4,000 rural communities on new opportunities that will be provided by the FTA.

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