World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search

 

US Farmers on W Africa Trip: 'US Policy Shameful'

US Farmers Back from West African Trip: 'Our Agriculture Policy is Shameful'

A delegation of farmers has returned to the US after spending last week meeting with West African farmers and getting a first hand look at the effect of International agricultural policies on the lives of farmers in developing countries. The tour, sponsored by international agency Oxfam, comes at a crucial point in time as the current international negotiations on trade at the WTO have just fallen over.

The participants, wheat, cotton, dairy, corn, sheep and cattle farmers from Texas, Illinois, Kansas, Virginia, and Vermont, met with local and regional producer organizations, farmers working in the fields, as well as representatives from the US and Malian government. Internationally acclaimed Malian singer, Habib Koite, also met with the farmers in Mali's capital, Bamako.

"I don't think you can come away from such a trip without some realization that most international agriculture policy is shameful," said Leo Tammi, a commercial sheep producer in Mount Sidney, Virginia. "We went to bear witness, and we've seen theft - we saw these livelihoods being stolen because of rich countries' government's policy."

Oxfam has been campaigning for the reform of international agriculture policies, which encourage overproduction of commodity crops, such as rice, cotton and soybeans. According to the international aid organization, the surplus is dumped on international markets at prices well below the cost of production, undermining local production, threatening the livelihood of millions of farmers and depriving developing countries of earnings and market share.

"Because of subsidies, the price of commodities has decreased to a point where the village receives no profit, preventing them from building a school, or have a health clinic, or even to invest in equipment that could improve their farming," said Jim French, a rancher from Reno County, Kansas and an organiser with Oxfam America. "The people we met live always one drought or natural disaster away from famine and displacement."

"The poverty struck me the most because it is so widespread," said Ken Gallaway, a third-generation, medium-scale cotton and corn farmer from near Lubbock, Texas. "There's just no comparison between the living conditions in the US and in West Africa."

"We have a lot of things in common with farmers around the world," said Charlie Melander, a wheat farmer from Salina, Kansas. "Farmers in the villages we visited shared their concerns over weather, lack of rain, yields, production costs and profitability."

"These folks are struggling and even as great as that struggle is, we were welcomed with open arms everywhere we went, which was a little surprising considering where we came from," said Terry Steinhour, who grows corn, soybeans and cattle in Greenview, IL. "If every farmer in rich nations saw what we saw, it would change their opinion on subsidies."

"I saw a glimmer of hope because they saw hope in us," Dexter Randall a dairy farmer from North Troy, Vermont. "We may come from very diverse areas, but we all have one thing in common: the survival of the family farm, not just in the US but across the world."


ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Rohingya Muslims Massacred: Restrictions On Aid Put 1000s At Risk

Amnesty: The Myanmar authorities’ restrictions on international aid in Rakhine state is putting tens of thousands of lives at risk in a region where mainly Rohingya people are already suffering horrific abuses from a disproportionate military campaign. More>>

ALSO:

Werewolf: Gordon Campbell On North Korea, Neo-Nazism, And Milo

With a bit of luck the planet won’t be devastated by nuclear war in the next few days. US President Donald Trump will have begun to fixate on some other way to gratify his self-esteem – maybe by invading Venezuela or starting a war with Iran. More>>

ALSO:

Victory Declared: New Stabilisation Funding From NZ As Mosul Is Retaken

New Zealand has congratulated the Iraqi government on the successful liberation of Mosul from ISIS after a long and hard-fought campaign. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Current US Moves Against North Korea

If Martians visited early last week, they’d probably be scratching their heads as to why North Korea was being treated as a potential trigger for global conflict... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Lessons From Corbyn’s Campaign

Leaving partisan politics aside – and ignoring Jeremy Corbyn’s sensational election campaign for a moment – it has to be said that Britain is now really up shit creek... More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 
 
  • Pacific.Scoop
  • Cafe Pacific
  • PMC