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American Corn Growers explain to world's farmers subsidy elimination alone not the answer

(Saturday, Sept. 13, 2003 -- CropChoice news) -- From a news release:

Contact: Larry Mitchell (202) 835-0330, http://www.acga.org

Cancún, Mexico - "I came to Cancún, Mexico to tell the world's farmers, their governments and their trade negotiators that U.S. farm policy is not working for farmers anywhere in the world. I am here this week because it is time to talk realistically about these problems," said John Dittrich, Senior Policy Analyst of the American Corn Growers Association (ACGA) and a farmer from Tilden, Neb. Dittrich traveled to the World Trade Organization (WTO) ministerial in Cancún to participate in the agriculture policy negotiations being held this week.

"We urge all those interested in global food production, global family agriculture, and developing countries to read the groundbreaking research report we have brought to Cancún," said Dittrich. He points to the newly released study, Rethinking U.S. Agriculture Policy: Changing Course to Secure Farmer Livelihoods Worldwide, by the Agriculture Policy Analysis Center (APAC), part of the University of Tennessee, a land-grant university. "This report goes comprehensively to the heart of the ever more contentious trade issues of farm subsidies in developed countries, low world commodity prices, and global poverty."

"We ask the world community to thoughtfully review this research. It concludes that even if the difficult task of negotiating the elimination of global farm subsidies is completed, family-based agriculture will continue to spiral downward as a result of continued low commodity prices," added Dittrich. "Farmer-oriented policies and international cooperation are the real solutions."

Professor Daniel G. De La Torre Ugarte, Associate Director of APAC, was also in attendance to provide a detailed presentation of the study. "U.S. policies heavily influence the fate of farmers well beyond our borders. Therefore, policy addressing the needs of U.S. farmers also should recognize our larger global influence," said De La Torre Ugarte. "We have found conclusive evidence through our analysis that international trade policies have indeed led the way for the global downward spiral of farm prices and farm income. However, we can also predict with a significant degree of accuracy that the elimination of U.S. farm subsidies without real price-enhancing reform of U.S. policy will destroy our farm and rural economy, and---surprisingly---would perpetuate the problems facing farmers in developing counties rather than alleviate them. We offer a blueprint of one example of how U.S. farm policy could be reformed. This is not a farm bill proposal, but an analysis and discussion of one possible solution the serious problems facing farm families and their communities worldwide."

APAC's analysis and blueprint for discussion includes acreage diversion through short-term conservation uses and longer-term acreage reserves, a farmer-owned food security reserve, and price supports as a replacement for the current and expensive policy of direct government subsidies. It also explores the use of non-tradable energy crops as a viable alternative to short and long-term acreage diversion options. Such reform could also save billions of dollars that could be redirected toward expanded conservation and rural development programs so essential to rural America.

For more information about the study or Dr. De La Torre Ugarte's presentation, please go to http://agpolicy.org/blueprint.html or contact APAC by calling (865) 974-7407. Mr. Dittrich's statement may be found at http://www.acga.org/Testimony/johndittrich_091103.htm .