Development & Aid, Environment, Tierramerica

Plowed Under: WTO and the Small Farmer

May 26 2002 (IPS) - The Agreement on Agriculture signed under the Uruguay Round of multilateral trade talks has not produced the predicted results, but rather is the first step in making food production into a business monopolized by a few and driving small farmers off the land.

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The WTO was established with a commitment to raise standards of living and ensure full employment by expanding trade, while upholding the objective of sustainable development. The reality has been almost the opposite, writes Anuradha Mittal, co-director of the Institute for Food and Development Policy (Food First).

In this article for IPS, Mittal writes that the 1996 Agreement on Agriculture (AOA), made under the WTO's predecessor, has become the first step in making food production into a business monopolized by a few. The AOA both proved a threat to the stability of Third World farmers lacking competitive advantages and engendered a US domestic agricultural policy that favors agribusiness over family farmers.

The model that causes overproduction in the United States and drives U.S. farmers off the land is the same model that drives peasants off the land in the Third World. For a fraction of the amount U.S. taxpayers currently pay, it should be possible to design a system that preserves family farming and builds a healthy rural United States without damaging the ability of farmers in other countries to make a living.

Editors interested in acquiring the complete article, please contact: romacol@ips.org

ATTENTION: NOT FOR PUBLICATION IN CANADA, IRELAND, THE UNITED STATES OR THE UNITED KINGDOM

 
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