Draft Paper – Not to be cited without author’s permission
To engage in agricultural production that ensures food needs, respects the environment and provides peasants with a life of dignity, an active intervention by the government is indispensable. This intervention must ensure:
peasants’ and small-scale farmers’ access to the means of production (land, seed, water, credit),
control of imports in order to stabilize the internal price to a level that covers the costs of production,
control of production (i.e. supply management) in order to avoid surpluses,
international commodity agreements to control supply and guarantee fair prices to peasant producers for export products such as coffee, cotton, etc,
public assistance to help the development of peasant production and marketing,
organization of the domestic market to give local peasant women and men full access to this market.
To take concrete steps in this direction we must urgently explore alternatives at the national and international levels. We call on the agencies of the UN such as the FAO, the UNCTAD and the ILO to take initiatives to develop an alternative framework to the WTO. This alternative framework must seek to redefine international agricultural policies that address the poverty and marginalization that characterize the majority living in rural areas.
Cheap imports have disastrous effects. To obtain food sovereignty it is essential to stop dumping.
Worldwide, agricultural imports at low prices are destroying local agricultural economies. Prior to Cancun and at the behest of the United States and the European Union, the WTO ratified a new dumping practice. In the European Union, internal prices above world market level combined with export subsidies are being replaced by low internal agricultural prices and direct (de-coupled) payments. These payments continue to the largest producers. In the US similar mechanisms are put in place. These policies continue and exacerbate dumping. It gives an enormous advantage to agribusiness. It also discredits agricultural subsidies in general which, in turn, negatively affects the possibility of maintaining much needed public financial support to peasant agriculture.
The answer to the dumping of surpluses is not ’to liberalize further.’
Eliminating direct and indirect export subsidies is an important step but even more important is a policy to control supply. Supply management effectively eliminates surpluses. Effective supply management also allows prices covering the cost of production and public financial support to peasant agriculture without generating surpluses that are dumped on other markets. The response to certain industrialized countries that practice dumping, cannot be to demand more liberalization and even more access to markets. These proposals do not defend the interest of farmers! Instead, these proposals only benefit export agriculture and transnationals (in the North and in the South); these proposals lead to the destruction of peasant production.