Draft Paper – Not to be cited without author’s permission
from the ground up to favor the removal of barriers to trade, rather than its regulation in the public interest, and its non-transparent, anti-democratic, superpower-dominated mechanisms are unlikely to make anything else possible.48 Bello and others suggest a strategy of reducing the purview of the WTO, while simultaneously trying to revive certain instruments of the more democratic United Nations system, like UNCTAD, the International Labor Organization (ILO) and in this case, the FAO.49 Via Campesina and allied organizations and movements call for a new dialog on the future of food and agriculture centered on the FAO, UNCTAD and the ILO (see Box 5).
At the national level, key venues include the Farm Bill process in the US, the CAP reform process in the EU, and national farm policy setting mechanisms in all countries. In the US the National Family Farm Coalition has proposed an alternative Farm Bill that would meet the objectives outlined about,50 and in the EU the European Farmers Coordination has proposed such an alternative CAP reform. 51
Potential Stumbling Blocks
As Tim Wise has said,52 these measures face many obstacles, most notably the concerted opposition of the powerful corporations—and their government allies—that currently benefit most from the global trading system in agriculture. Yet these proposals offer a number of advantages,that make them at least as plausible as the notion that we could really eliminate Northern farm subsidies.
First of all, these alternative proposals make natural allies of farmer and peasant groups around the world, North and South, East and West, as has been amply demonstrated by Via Campesina. They also lay the initial groundwork for broader coalitions and alliances within national and global civil society. They could provide a common ground for many Third World and G-10 governments, were it possible to wean them from agribusiness and agroexport influences. They infringe less on national sovereignty, allowing countries to choose the measures they prefer for the food and farming systems they want, as long as such policies do not lead to export dumping, and they could be a lot cheaper in terms of tax payer dollars spent on farm subsidies, with much better outcomes for most of society.