Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy


The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) was founded in 1986 with funds from the Unitarian Universalist Church’s Veatch Foundation (which was, at the time, run by a former Greenpeace director). Its apparent mission is to criticize industrial agriculture in general and food technology in particular.

In addition to its constant rant against genetically improved foods, IATP works behind the scenes in international bodies like the World Trade Organization to increase regulatory and trade burdens for countries that don’t practice enough “sustainable” agriculture. The Foundation for Deep Ecology gave IATP $75,000 in 1999 for this exact purpose. “Sustainable” agriculture refers to the move away from new technologies and toward more “natural” (read: organic) ways of producing food.

Here in the United States, IATP uses its activist network to strong-arm American corporations into endorsing its politically-correct trading model, which includes importing more food from “sustainable” growers in other countries. The group’s most successful push has been in the area of so-called “fair-trade” coffee, which is more expensive to buy because its growers claim to pay their workers drastically above-market wages.


In addition to the nonprofit Institute for Agriculture & Trade Policy, Mark and Neil Ritchie also operate a business on the side. It’s an organic retailer called Headwaters International, but it’s generally known by the name of its principal product: Peace Coffee (also called Café Paz). The packages of roasted beans carry the photograph of Guatemalan activist-turned-fraud Rigoberta Menchú, who admitted fabricating much of the narrative in her autobiography after winning the 1992 Nobel Peace Prize. The for-profit Peace Coffee shares office space with IATP and uses the nonprofit’s address for the administration of its finances and web site.

IATP received over $177,000 from the radical Tides Foundation between 1998 and 1999. The for-profit Headwaters also got at least $25,000 in seed money from Tides in 1997 and 1998. One year earlier, when the Tides Foundation wanted to spin off some of its grant-making functions, the Tides Center was born; Mark Ritchie was listed as the fiscal agent on this new corporation’s legal documents. He’s clearly a foundation insider. Publicly available IRS records indicate that while Ritchie was in this position, money passed from the tax-exempt foundation to his own for-profit business.


IATP is a prime example of a nonprofit that engages in “black marketing”: the public disparagement of one set of products in order to turn a profit with the competition. By condemning conventional methods of agriculture, for instance, IATP hopes to drive the American market toward “organic-only” food production, a segment of the market in which its directors hold a financial stake.