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US Farm Bill - Bad Farm Policy Bad Trade Policy

The Hon Mark Vaile, MP

Minister for Trade, Australia

Media releases

Thursday 9 May 2002 / MVT039/2002

US Farm Bill - Bad Farm Policy Bad Trade Policy

Trade Minister Mark Vaile today expressed his disappointment in the US Farm Bill, passed overnight in the US Senate.

Mr Vaile said the 10 year $US180 billion farm bill was nothing more than a splurge on failed farm policy and was damaging to trade policy as well.

“US farm policy has clearly failed,” Mr Vaile said.

“After years of huge subsidies the US farm sector is more dependent than ever on handouts from the US taxpayer.

“US farmers are simply producing too much of the wrong product at a price that the market won’t pay because production decisions are driven by subsidy programs rather than what the market wants.

“On top of this, the sheer size of US Farm expenditure at more than $US180 billion over the next decade means that US farm policy will hurt farmers around the world – particularly in developing countries.”

The US action also sends a negative signal about the US ability to assume a leading role in the global trade negotiations which were launched in Doha last November.

“Many countries must now be questioning why they should open up and deregulate their economies when the US clearly has no appetite for reform,” Mr Vaile said.

Mr Vaile nonetheless welcomed yesterday’s comments by US Trade Representative Bob Zoellick that despite the passage of the Farm Bill the President remains committed to the global trade negotiations and, in particular, to the reform of agricultural trade including large cuts in subsidies and improvements in market access.

“I will be meeting with Bob Zoellick in Paris next week and I will further emphasize Australia’s disappointment at this Farm Bill.

“The US action only stands to strengthen Australia’s resolve, as chair of the Cairns Group, to press for meaningful trade reform to a grossly distorted world agricultural market, reform that must be achieved out of the Doha Round.

“It is time to end the lunacy of outdated and damaging farm policies.”


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