RESOLUTION INTRODUCTION STATEMENT -- HON. CHRISTOPHER H. SMITH (Extensions of Remarks - September 27, 2005)
HON. CHRISTOPHER H. SMITH
OF NEW JERSEY
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
Mr. SMITH of New Jersey. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to introduce legislation designed to help poor farmers in African nations who are being undercut and devastated by the continued subsidies some of the world's wealthiest countries offer to their own farmers.
Developed world subsidies drive down global prices for farm products. For farmers in wealthy nations, this often involves the amount of profit possible; for African farmers, this involves their very survival. Since more than 70 percent of Africans depend on the agricultural sector for their livelihoods, normalizing global agricultural trade is an issue of life or death for many African farmers who have few, if any, alternatives to farm Income.
For every six dollars daily the United States and the nations of the European Union spend on agricultural subsidies in their own nations, we spend one dollar on official aid to developing countries. This means that the positive impact of our aid programs is being undercut by trade-distorting subsidies, which are crushing the very people our aid is intended to help.
Developed countries agreed to negotiate a multilateral end to agricultural subsidies through the World Trade Organization with a target date of January 1st of this year. That deadline was missed, and the current Doha round of WTO trade talks may fail, largely because of the issue of continuing agricultural subsidies. President Bush recently reiterated America's commitment to accelerate the end of all developed world agricultural subsidies.
American cotton subsidies have been said to endanger the welfare of African cotton farmers in several African nations, but European dairy and meat subsidies pose an even broader threat to African farm incomes. When a Japanese cow can produce more daily revenue than even the most industrious African farmer, something is seriously wrong with the economic order. Curtailing developed world agricultural subsidies will allow Africans to be more self-sufficient. It is estimated that such a change would result in as much as a 45 percent increase in the net agricultural trade by sub-Saharan Africa and a 5.1 percent increase in African farm income.
It is the responsibility of our government, as well as other governments, to address the needs of our farmers, but it should not be done at the expense of low-income African farmers. This resolution, cosponsored by Mr. PAYNE, Mr. ROYCE, Mr. FLAKE and Mr. MEEKS, calls for a multilateral end to agricultural subsidies as quickly as possible and for developed nations to work with African nations to mutually remove remaining impediments to equitable agricultural trade in the global marketplace.