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WTO ruling, Bush trade commitments require rethinking U.S. agriculture policy

(Saturday, Sept. 18, 2004 -- CropChoice news) -- From an American Corn Growers Association news release:
SEATTLE – At this year’s Farm Aid concert near Seattle, Wash., Larry Mitchell, Chief Executive Officer of the American Corn Growers Association (ACGA), declared, “We must rethink U.S. agriculture policy and change course to secure farmers’ livelihoods world wide.”

“Following recent commitments by the Bush administration to the World Trade Organization (WTO) to further reduce the safety net for America’s farm families, and the WTO ruling against U.S. cotton subsidies, it is time we move toward a U.S. agriculture policy that relies more on improving prices paid to farmers for the fruits of their labor and less on direct subsidies from taxpayers,” said Mitchell.

Speaking at a trade forum, as part of the Farm Aid event, Mitchell discussed three interwoven issues:

  • U.S. agriculture policy impacts farm families, not only in this country, but also around the globe,
  • International trade agreements impact U.S. agriculture policy, and therefore,
  • We must rethink U.S. and international agriculture policy and change course to secure farmers' livelihoods worldwide.

“Subsidies are simply a necessary treatment for the devastating disease of low prices. If we are to eliminate the critical treatment, we must first eliminate the disease,” added Mitchell. “If Congress ratifies the commitments of the Bush Administration to the WTO, and/or if the recent WTO judgment against U.S. cotton subsidies stands, then we must work, with all haste, toward policies, domestically and internationally, that support prices at a level that do not depend on subsidies.

Since the House Agriculture committee has already opened the 2002 farm bill by voting to eliminate Country of Origin Labeling as required in said bill, and committee staff has recently announced farm bill hearings for next year, we call on the same committee and staff to work toward this crucial change in policy as soon as possible.”

“We urge all those interested in global food production, global family agriculture, and developing countries to read the groundbreaking research report Rethinking U.S. Agriculture Policy: Changing Course to Secure Farmer Livelihoods Worldwide, by the Agriculture Policy Analysis Center (APAC), part of the University of Tennessee,” added Mitchell. “This report goes comprehensively to the heart of the ever more contentious trade issues of farm subsidies in developed countries, low world commodity prices, and global poverty.”

“We ask the Congress to thoughtfully review this research. It concludes that even if the difficult task of negotiating the elimination of global farm subsidies is completed, family-based agriculture will continue to spiral downward as a result of continued low commodity prices,” concluded Mitchell.

APAC’s analysis and blueprint for discussion includes acreage diversion through short-term conservation uses and longer-term acreage reserves, a farmer-owned food security reserve, and price supports as a replacement for the current and expensive policy of direct government subsidies. For more information about the study, please go to http://agpolicy.org/blueprint.html .


  • Larry Mitchell (202) 835-0330
  • Keith Dittrich (402) 385-7786