Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Getting along...

International reaction to our farm bill debate and the ag subsidy roadblock at the WTO is ramping up. The two issues seem to have merged in the international press.
Australia (BTW, one of our few allies in Iraq, remember):
The 2007 Farm Bill is critical to Australia's interests because US subsidies to wheat, cotton sugar and dairy farmers have the potential to distort prices of some of our major agricultural commodities.

The 2002 legislation, which is due to expire in September, has long been a source of concern to the Australian Government because it directly subsidies the incomes of American farmers, making it harder for countries such as Australia, New Zealand and Brazil to compete, despite being efficient low-cost producers. [More]

The White House and key members of Congress had been pushing for major reforms aimed at cutting overall subsidies, capping payouts to millionaire farmers and generally bringing the regime into line with international trade rules.

The agriculture committee chose to ignore all that.

If ever there was a sign that the United States isn't serious about reaching a global free-trade deal, there it was. Talk about backtracking and intransigence. [More]
California (OK, it's technically not a foreign country, but it's close):
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is urging Congress not to forget their fruits and vegetables as they write a new federal Farm Bill.

Schwarzenegger and the governors of New York, Florida and Texas co-signed a letter sent Tuesday to the congressional Agriculture Committees that outlines what the four most populous states want out of the legislation.

But what California wants may not matter when it comes time to write the bill, because the committees are stacked with Midwestern members. [More]

As Congress marches on to make the US the Land of the Corn via ethanol mandates, it strikes me as an excellent opportunity to try to give a little ground on our farm subsidies. If you haven't noticed, America is very slowly drifting into an isolated position in the world community. It was one story when we dominated every vital economic statistic, but that is hardly the case now.

Crimony, if you can't get along with Canada, who's left to be friends with?

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