December 9, 2008


US slams WTO farm draft text

Senators from US farm states and the nation's largest farm group have slammed the new negotiating text for a World Trade Organisation (WTO) deal on Monday (Dec 8, 2008).


The draft text contains loopholes that would limit US market access, according to a bipartisan group of 22 US senators in a letter to President George W. Bush.


The US has offered to cut its domestic subsidies but other countries have not gone far enough, said the group.


The framework now under consideration by negotiators in Geneva is not sound or balanced from the perspective of US agriculture, therefore it will not have the support of the senators, said the letter.


The 6 million-member large American Farm Bureau Federation said the US should reject the draft.


"Any trade deal that legitimises agricultural trade barriers and protectionist behavior is unacceptable," said Bob Stallman, president of the Federation.


Ranchers still hope the US pushes for a deal, and hope to gain access in Europe and Japan, said Gregg Doud, chief economist of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association.


Doud said the text accommodated some countries' sensitive products, especially Canada's supply-managed dairy and poultry industries, which confuses him whether market access would be liberalised or not.

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