Farm Groups Draw Line On Trade Pact

U.S. farm groups have told the Bush administration that they will not be able to support any world farm trade deal that calls for them to accept program cuts but does not include curbs on less developed countries with competing export sectors.

“Our producers will find it difficult to support a final WTO agreement that requires substantial reductions in trade-distorting domestic support for U.S. farmers while allowing our largest and fastest-growing competitors in the world to continue or further stimulate their competitive export sectors," say commodities groups in a Feb. 28 letter to U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman and Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns.

Disciplines should be applied to commodities sectors in developing countries that have a share of 5% or more of world trade for commodities and semi-processed products, the letter says.

Brazil is the main source of concern for U.S. farm groups as it is still classified under world trade rules as a developing nation despite a booming agricultural sector.

“Whatever is agreed for the developed world should be applied to developing country major exporters to the same degree. If they are a major player they shouldn't hide behind developing country status to escape the disciplines that we'll be subjected to," Jack Roney, director of economics and policy analysis for the American Sugar Alliance tells Reuters News Service.

A senior U.S. trade official, speaking on condition of anonymity, tells Reuters the U.S. was trying to persuade export-competitive developing nations to make more concessions in farm reform, but that it was a very politically sensitive matter.

Negotiators from the U.S., the European Union, Australia, Japan, Brazil and India have been meeting to prepare the way for a key ministerial gathering on March 10 in London.

Editors note: Richard Brock, The Corn and Soybean Digest's Marketing Editor, is president of Brock Associates, a farm market advisory firm, and publisher of The Brock Report.

To see more market perspectives, visit Brock's Web site at www.brockreport.com.