Draft Paper – Not to be cited without author’s permission
Box 4. European and American Family Farmer Positions
WTO Agricultural Negotiations in Geneva
A joint statement by the European Farmers Coordination (CPE) and the National Family
Farm Coalition, USA (NFFC).65
Brussels & Washington, July 22, 2004.
The current drive to reach agreement on
agricultural issues at the World Trade Organization (WTO) should be brought to a halt. The WTO General Council is meeting in Geneva, starting July 27th, to discuss a framework on agriculture that is completely unacceptable. We propose a new EU agriculture policy, a new US Farm Bill, and new international trade rules, all based on food sovereignty and sustainable family farming.
The European Union and the United States must put an end to the swindle they have been imposing on other WTO members since the Uruguay Round of the GATT in 1994. Who can believe the sincerity of the European Union and the United States when their stated intentions to end export subsidies only results in letting internal prices drop to extremely low “world levels,” thus dumping US and EU commodities on the export market to the detriment of farmers all over the world?
Propping up the US and EU agricultural systems with massive amounts of direct payments re-categorized as green box or blue box payments fails miserably in concealing the duplicity of the EU, US and the multinational agribusiness corporations that benefit from buying low-priced commodities. The claims by these corporations that cheap commodities benefit consumers is belied by their ever increasing profit margins, the destruction of local food systems, and growing populations of undernourished citizens. Likewise claims of benefits to US and EU farmers are belied by the loss of family farms, the growth of industrialized livestock production and the de-population of the countryside in the United States and the EU.
Export subsidies, public support, taxpayer’s money:
Both the EU and the US are attempting to maintain their current subsidy systems by simply re-categorizing payments, which carries the illusion that they are decreasing export subsidies with the expectation that a greater agricultural balance will arise between developing and developed countries. This is not the case. The apparent rationale of the EU and the US to diminish trade distorting domestic support unfortunately parallels the misguided efforts of the Cairn’s group and the G-20 to discredit the importance of government involvement in achieving social and environmental justice in the world’s many agricultural systems.
Public support in agriculture is legitimate, in the South as in the North, provided that it does not serve to promote production or exports at prices below production costs. But it is precisely one of the objectives of the EU/US direct payments—to allow all production (for domestic use and for export) to be priced at extremely low “world prices.”