Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Hot-button cotton

In other "subsidies are bad" news, former president and Nobel Peace Prize winner Jimmy Carter has an op-ed column in the Washington Post today decrying the current state of U.S. agriculture protections:

Tragically, in its current form [the Farm Bill] does not fulfill its original purposes [of sustaining family farms] but instead encourages excess production while channeling enormous government payments to the biggest producers. This product of powerful lobbyists now punishes small-scale farmers in the United States and is devastating to families in many of the world's least affluent countries.
Referring to an Oxfam report, Carter says the U.S. spends more to subsidize domestic cotton production than it does to fund development in all of sub-Saharan Africa, then dumps the excess cotton at below-market rates that further depress world cotton prices, adding injury to insult to small poor farmers in that region.

But after making a case for how freer trade could improve the lot of the world's poor, he does an abrupt about face and reaffirms the need for protection:
Cotton production costs 73 cents per pound in the United States and only 21 cents per pound in West Africa, so American farmers do need protection in the international marketplace.
Perhaps, as much of America faces dire water shortages, U.S. farmers might be better off planting other crops and letting better-watered lands raise thirsty crops like cotton. Cheaper T-shirts might not be the only payoff.

Technorati tags:

No comments:

Ag in the West social media watch

Capital Press videos on YouTube

Our most popular videos