WASHINGTON (July 25, 2008)—Following the announcement of a trade concession a few years ago, a Minnesota farmer gave a local reporter a quote for the ages.
“We need to have uniforms made up for our trade negotiators so they know what team they play for,” he said.
Now with current WTO trade talks headed in the wrong direction, U.S. farmers are making a new fashion statement. And it looks like they’re backing Team France.
A number of producers have started wearing “Sarkozy Farm Team” t-shirts in honor of France’s president and outspoken WTO critic, Nicolas Sarkozy. Sarkozy believes negotiations are heading the wrong way if the goal is to lift people out of poverty and feed the world’s hungry.
The t-shirt bears a well known Sarkozy saying on the back:
“In a world where there are 800M poor people who cannot satisfy their hunger and where a kid dies every 30 seconds from hunger, I will never accept a reduction in agricultural production on the altar of global liberalism.”
U.S. and European farmers have found a common bond with their distaste of the direction of the ongoing Doha Round.
Louisiana sugar farmer Jessie Breaux explained: “As Cajuns, we’re especially proud of our French brethren for standing firm. And, as American farmers, we’re frustrated with US negotiators for putting another bad offer on the table in Geneva. Paraphrasing our Revolutionary War heroes, this sounds like ‘Trade concession without Representation!’”
“Our negotiators are offering steep cuts in domestic farm supports, but they are getting little in return from Brazil, India, China and other agricultural superpowers who are angling to put family farmers out of business,” explained, Steve Kramer, a Minnesota corn farmer. “The fact that these countries are demanding a one-sided trade deal in the name of humanitarian relief doesn’t stand up to the facts,” he continued. “Let’s not forget that these ag giants are the same ones that pay their workers pennies an hour and have some of the lowest labor and environmental standards in the world.”
Even more ironic, according to Kramer, is the fact that China and India have been imposing export controls on crops produced in those countries. This is worsening the worldwide hunger situation.
When asked what he hopes to see when the Doha dust finally settles, Stan Fury, who grows sorghum in New Mexico, quoted another Frenchman, Jean-Michel Lemétayer, the president of Europe’s biggest farming organization. “No deal is better than a bad deal, and the deal currently on the table is very bad.”