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Commonwealth / U-S Farm Subsidies - 2002-05-15

On Monday (May 13th), President Bush signed legislation that sharply increases government subsidies for US farmers and ranchers. It provides 190-billion dollars over six years for farm programs.

The legislation has brought praise from farmers in the United States, but also criticism at home and abroad. Fiscal conservatives say it’s too expensive in a time of deficits and developing nations fear it will hurt trade with the United States.

Among the critics of the farm subsidies is Don McKinnon, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth. He says the US farm bill “makes a farce of the commitments for trade liberalization reached in Doha (at the recent World Trade Organization conference) and undermines the prospects of developing countries trading their way out of poverty.” Mr. McKinnon calls on the United States to take the lead and make some sacrifices to help poorer nations. In a cell phone interview with English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua, Mr. McKinnon says developing nations need better access to the markets of wealthy nations; and he says the US bill undermines their confidence in international trade.

President Bush says the farm bill ”supports our commitment to open trade and complies with our obligation to the World Trade Organization.” Mr. Bush also says "the success of America's farmers and ranchers is essential to the success of the American economy."

Click the above links to listen to interview.