New study suggests ending subsidies not enough

WASHINGTON, D. C., September 3, 2003 -- CropChoice news: A report released today by the Agriculture Policy Analysis Center (APAC) shows that the U.S. farm policy does indeed have a direct effect on agricultural communities across the globe. The research also suggests that ending subsidies is not enough to reverse current agricultural conditions.

John Dittrich, senior policy analyst of the American Corn Growers Association, introduced the study, Rethinking U.S. Agriculture Policy: Changing Course to Secure Farmer Livelihoods Worldwide, "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."

John Hansen, secretary of the National Farmers Union, said the report provided a critical tool that policymakers should use in constructing farm policy: "We ask the world community 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. Farmer-oriented policies and international cooperation are the real solutions."

Dittrich and Hansen were joined by Katherine Ozer of the National Family Farm Coalition, Lorette Picciano of the Rural Coalition/Coalición Rural, Ben Lilliston of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, and Bill Christison of the Missouri Rural Crisis Center. In addition, other organizations present and supportive of the initiative included the Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund, the National Farmers Organization, the Soybean Producers of America, and the American Agriculture Movement.

Professor Daryll E. Ray, Blasingame Chair of Excellence in Agricultural Policy and APAC director, followed the news conference with a detailed presentation of the study.

"U.S. policies heavily influence the fate of farmers well beyond our borders," Ray said. "Therefore, policy addressing the needs of U.S. farmers also should recognize our larger global influence. We have found conclusive evidence through our analysis that international trade policies have indeed led the way for the global downward spiral of farm prices and farm income. However, we can also predict with a significant degree of accuracy that the elimination of U.S. farm subsidies without real price-enhancing reform of U.S. policy will destroy our farm and rural economy, and---surprisingly---would perpetuate the problems facing farmers in developing counties rather than alleviate them."

A presentation of the study and its background will be presented during the WTO ministerial in Cancún at Casa Maya on Thursday, Sept. 11 at 8:00 p.m. MEX. For more information contact Dennis Olson at (612)870-3412.

For more information about the study or Dr. Ray's presentation, please go to http://agpolicy.org/blueprint.html or call the Agricultural Policy and Analysis Center (APAC) at (865) 974-7407


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