US and EU Farmers Agree: WTO Falling Short

July 14, 2008

WASHINGTON (July 14, 2008)—Farmers on both sides of the pond today came out swinging against the direction of international trade negotiations.

“With a decisive Ministerial to be held next week, the undersigned organizations, representing America’s farmers and ranchers, wish to express their continued deep concern about the status and direction of the Doha Round of WTO negotiations,” 13 influential U.S. farm groups wrote in a letter to President George Bush.

Earlier in the day, European farmers made it clear that they agreed with their U.S. counterparts.

“No deal is better than a bad deal, and the deal currently on the table is very bad,” Jean-Michel LEMÉTAYER, president of the Committee of Professional Agricultural Organisations in the EU, said in a statement.

Of particular concern to American farmers is the notion that their recently-passed farm bill could be used as a bargaining chip in the WTO negotiations.

“We are also alarmed by statements, including some reportedly made by Administration officials, suggesting concessions on U.S. agriculture are to be traded off for gains in NAMA (Non-Agricultural Market Access) and Services,” the U.S. farm groups wrote.

And it looks like they have obvious reason to be nervous. Immediately following the farm bill’s passage, WTO Director General Pascal Lamy, told reporters that current WTO negotiations were the best vehicle to “trump up this farm bill.”

U.S. farm groups representing the soybean, sugar, wheat, barley, cotton, dairy, sorghum, peanut, canola, rice, and dry pea and lentil industries signed the White House letter.