Call for more US subsidies

28 Nov, 2001 10:00 PM

MEMBERS of the US Senate have called for greater subsidies for US grain producers than those in the modified US Farm Protection Bill.

Democrat members of the Senate Agriculture Committee, which is debating the Bill in the Senate, have called for an additional US$1billion a year to be spent on crop subsidies. They have called for the extra support, even at the expense of conservation or anti-hunger programs. The recent developments have appalled Australian political and agricultural leaders, who say the actions would appear in direct conflict to the rhetoric being shown by the US in World Trade Negotiations in Doha, Qatar.

But the government has dropped short of calling for a boycott of WTO trade negotiations if the proposed measures go through.

Instead Federal Agriculture Minister Warren Truss said it was likely (if he retains his Ministerial position in the new Howard Government) that he will be travelling to Washington to lobby the Americans within a week.

"This is completely unacceptable and inconsistent with what they are saying at Dohar at the moment," Minister Truss said.

"It appears the (US) administration is saying the right things but the politicians can't impose restraint.

"If the US is to have a leading role in these WTO talks ... they can't be passing those types of laws.

"They have very good reason to feel very embarrassed."

His sentiments were mirrored by National Farmers Federation president Ian Donges.

"I am just staggered by the requests of US farm bodies and politicians," Mr Donges said

"It flies in the face of what appears to be reasonable progress being shown (at WTO negotiations) in Doha."

Under proposed changes to the Farm Protection Bill, crop supports would receive US$11 billion less over the next decade, while conservation and public nutrition programs would see a US$9b boost.


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