Farm Bureau, Ag Groups Outline Three Pillars of Ag Trade

WASHINGTON, D.C., September 8, 2003: On the eve of crucial world trade talks, a coalition of U.S. farm groups said today that their ultimate support of any new trade agreement will depend on the degree to which they can measure meaningful reform in the areas of market access, export competition and domestic support.
Ag groups' core objectives:

• Greatly improved market access.
• Peak tariffs that are capped and reduced over time.
• Substantial improvements in the area of market access.
• Domestic support disciplines applied consistently to both developed and developing countries that are major agricultural exporters.
• No exemptions for net-food-exporting countries from subsidy disciplines applied to developed countries.
• Requiring countries with higher levels of trade-distorting subsidies to make larger reductions in those programs.
• No limits or caps for non-trade-distorting (green box) expenditures.
• The timely elimination of export subsidies and similar trade-distorting policies, such as state trading enterprises.
• The tenure for loan repayment under the U.S. export credit guarantee program must be sufficient to maintain participation by developing-country importers.
• And, U.S. food aid programs must be able to continue providing U.S. agricultural commodities and products to food-deficit countries.

During a joint news conference, the groups told reporters they expect compromise, but progress on those "three pillars of agricultural trade" is essential.

American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) President Bob Stallman told reporters that U.S. agriculture's support would depend on whether specific objectives are achieved within and between the areas of market access, export competition and domestic support.

Other groups in attendance, or signing on to a joint statement, included the American Soybean Association, the American Sugar Alliance, the National Association of Wheat Growers, the National Barley Growers Association, the National Corn Growers Association, the National Cotton Council, the National Milk Producers Federation, the National Sunflower Association, the U.S. Canola Association, the USA Rice Federation, the Wheat Export Trade Education Committee and the National Grain Sorghum Producers.

"The degree to which U.S. agricultural producers will support reductions in trade-distorting domestic support and greater openness in our markets depends on the degree to which tariffs are harmonized and trade-distorting policies are disciplined in their markets. By that, I mean in the markets of both developed and developing countries," Stallman told reporters.

Additionally, Stallman said America's farmers and ranchers would support reductions in trade-distorting domestic supports only if "developing countries that are major agricultural exporters agree to accept similar disciplines."

"The elimination of export subsidies by trade entities such as the European Union continues to be a critical element of any final agreement," Stallman said. "Progress must be made in all three of these negotiation pillars for open and fair market conditions to prevail in the world."


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