I have argued repeatedly over the past year that, despite the collapse of the WTO talks on reducing agriculture subsidies in the U.S. and Europe, there remains a chance to substantially improve the terms of trade for African farmers exporting to Western markets. Yesterday the Bush administration lent support for this perspective, introducing a wideranging set of reform measures for the nation’s extensive and expensive farm-subsidy program. Large cuts in farm subsidies are both justified on economic grounds and morally right. As I have written in the Milken Institute Review and San Francisco Chronicle, reform of farm subsidies will enable the U.S. to seize the moral high ground in debates over African poverty and economic development. But opponents to these cuts are numerous and the political farm lobby is hugely influential, with ties across both parties. The fight over farm subsidies is sure to be closely watched around the world, especially in Africa, where farmers lose about 10-20 percent of their potential income, across a variety of crops, because of America’s policy of paying its own farmers not to grow or to grow at a loss.
Feb 01 2007
Comments Off on Farmer Subsidies