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Draft Paper – Not to be cited without author’s permission

Rural peoples are more and more being forced by economic necessity to abandon the land and seek their fortune in peri-urban slums and shanty towns, or join the global migrant stream. Rural economies are in a state of economic collapse, from Iowa to Africa, and agriculture contributes ever less to local, regional and national economic development. Rural environments are being rapidly degraded, soils compacted, eroded and poisoned with pesticides, and stripped of biodiversity.

To counter these challenges, concrete policy options are needed that put into practice the ideals expressed in the alternative paradigms of multifunctionality and food sovereignty. Toward that end, a good number of mostly complementary proposals have been made. They are mostly complementary in the broad sense, because they overlie serious differences of opinion over whether the proper forum to achieve them is in the WTO and other trade agreements, or in some other set of already existing and/or to-be-created venues.36 A remarkably broad global coalition of groups is coalescing around some or all of these options. They include organizations of family farmers, peasants, indigenous people, trade unions, consumers, policy institutes, academics and others. What follows are brief summaries of the most salient proposals.

6.1.1 Market Access and Protection: Stop Dumping

When poorer countries are obliged to give more foreign access to their domestic markets than richer countries provide for them, most observers consider the system unbalanced

and unjust. actors seem

Once they open their markets they to agree, at least rhetorically, that

become ending

susceptible to dumping. Most dumping should be a goal of

37 international negotiations in agriculture. reality.

Several steps can be taken to make this a

First,

we

need

to

eliminate

visible

and

hidden

export

subsidies

as

quickly

as

possible,

though that is not as easy as it sounds.

In theory this is agreed upon even by governments

in

the

WTO,

while

in

practice

there

are

myriad

ways

these

subsidies

are

disguised

and

hidden

(see

Appendix

1).

A

possibly

simpler

approach

would

be

to

ban

international

trade

in farm products at prices below the cost of production (costs plus a return to farm

families

that

is

sufficient

for

a

living

wage).

This

will

require

the

creation

of

clear

guidelines for full-cost accounting of commodity production. Some international agency will have to develop a methodology and publish the results, establishing a baseline for costs of production in each exporting country to be used to determine whether dumping is

taking place. Such subsidies, as well as and dairy products.

a methodology should take into account indirect subsidies such as the subsidized cost

all input and general of feed grains for meat

Second, because full compliance is unlikely, all countries must be permitted a broad range of options to protect themselves from dumping. For example, all countries should be allowed to impose countervailing duties or take other protective measures if agricultural exports from other countries are being dumped at less than cost of production prices. Furthermore, to protect food security and family farmer/peasant livelihoods,

18

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