Cotton Picking Subsidies


Those out-of-control free-market fanatics in the Bush administration fight the World Trade Organization in defense of subsidies to cotton farmers. As the Washington Times reports:

The WTO in September largely backed a charge by Brazil that U.S. payments to cotton farmers skew competition, lower global cotton prices and essentially rob Brazilian farmers of income.
Brazil expected the appeal. The country maintains that U.S. cotton producers received $12.47 billion in subsidies from August 1999 to July 2003, spurring overproduction and lowering world prices by almost 13 percent.
The South American nation, a rising agricultural powerhouse, also has won a WTO case against European Union sugar subsidies as part of an assault on rich countries' farm subsidies. The European Union is appealing.
The world's wealthiest countries combined paid $257 billion in support to their farmers in 2003, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said. The 25-nation European Union doled out the most at $121.4 billion, followed by the United States at $38.9 billion.
U.S. cotton subsidies reached $3.31 billion in 2002, the last year included in Brazil's case, and then declined to $2.89 billion in 2003 and an estimated $1.66 billion for 2004, according to U.S. Farm Service Agency data.


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  1. I’d love to see these subsidies go away.

    Even if my taxes don’t go down as a result (which I doubt would ever happen) at least the money could be used to prop up Social Security (since we don’t seem to be able to get rid of it). Or maybe an increase in defense spending. More money spent on defense = bigger paycheck for me.

  2. Overheard at the WTO:

    “Freedom? Freedom? That is Yang worship word. You will not speak it!”
  3. gaius marius…we salute you. amen.

  4. “…embrace the wto instead of protectionist bilateral agreements….”
    –gaius marius

    Instead of either, just lower tariffs and eliminate the damned subsidies.

  5. No shit. Trade is so totally fucked. The green people, who are against prosperity for the third world, and economic growth here at home, have declared the WTO and all the protectionists in government to be evil free traders. Making actual politicians advocating free trade are as rare as unicorns, and all prospects for the near term future awful bleak.

    God that’s depressing, I need a drink. Better make it corn whiskey, can’t afford the duty on scotch.

  6. Ideally I would like to see unilateral removal of trade barriers. Practically I realize it will never happen, so I don’t have a major objection to the basic idea of agreements where each country slowly rolls back barriers on the condition that the others do likewise. I might argue with some of the implementation details, but the basic idea is perfectly acceptable to me.

    The editors of the Economist have long argued that removing US trade barriers would do more good for the third world than all of the foreign aid currently doled out. It would also do considerable good for US consumers and Americans who work in industries that use imported raw materials. Remember how Detroit screamed over the steel tarriff? Here’s a tip for Bush’s brain-substitute, um, I mean, Karl Rove: If you’re going to pander to a large swing state with anti-market trade rules, make sure you don’t screw over another large swing state.

  7. Why does George Bush favor the interests of drug dealers, warlords, and Al Qaeda over the poor farmers of Afghanistan who are looking for viable substitute crops?

  8. All these acronymns:
    WTO, WMF, UN, …

    Has anyone thought of matching their accomplishments to:
    IBM, DOW, MSFT, …?

  9. I just want damn some real-sugar Coke. Not the corn-syrup variety manufactured here. Is Coke in Europe made from Sugar Beet sweetener?

    (Step2 is apparently the name of the goverment subsidy program for cotton.)

    Look at all the Blue states on the list! (including my home state of SC) That could be the selling point to the Dems.

  11. “Those out-of-control free-market fanatics in the Bush administration…”

    Pat Buchanan explain yourself!

    …on second thought, just keep it on the DL.

  12. What’s Reason’s next Hit And Run?

    “Sun Rises In East!”

    No duh we have lots of agriculture subsidies.

    Farmers have lots of pictures of congressmen with farm animals.

  13. And the kicker is that not only are cotton subsidies costing taxpayers billions and impoverishing other countries, they are destroying the environment in Arkansas. The Memphis paper here ran a series a while back about the unsustainable water usage problem cotton growers cause, because it’s a crop that needs an insane amount of water.

  14. So cotton subsidies deny de Nile from performing its waterly duties?

    And in Memphis! Of all places!

  15. John, not everyone realises the subsidies, obviously, or we might not have such an insane amount.

  16. Come to think of it, daid elvis, what is the Mississippi River, chopped liver river?

  17. “Farmers have lots of pictures of congressmen with farm animals.”

    John, I am deeply grateful. It all makes sense to me now why the supposed “free trade” Republicans bend over forward for the farmers. Now what about publicly-built stadiums and corporate welfare??

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