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Archived Articles on Agricultural Subsidies


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Where's the Moral Fiber? (October 18, 2004)

The US intends to appeal a September 2004 World Trade Organization ruling, which declares the country's $3.2 billion annual cotton subsidies illegal. Fair trade organization Oxfam stresses that US cotton subsidies and dumping practices create immense losses for poor cotton-producing African countries and hinder their development.

Indian Farmers Losing $1.1 Billions to Rich Countries (September 21, 2004)

According to the International Food Policy Research Institute, the European Union bears responsibility for half of all distortions to agricultural economies of poor countries, while US subsidies generate one third of all distortions. Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, the regions whose economies depend most on agricultural trade also suffer the most from rich countries subsidies. (Hindustan Times)

Busted: World Trade Watchdog Declares EU & US Farm Subsidies Illegal (September 9, 2004)

The World Trade Organization (WTO) has ruled that the majority of the subsidies the EU and US pay their sugar and cotton farmers are illegal under WTO rules. This represents a significant victory for poor countries who have suffered greatly from the agricultural subsidies in rich countries that have allowed dumping of cheap cotton and sugar goods (Oxfam International)

WTO Deals New Blow to 'Big Power' Farm Subsidies (August 4, 2004)

The WTO, hoping to follow through with its mission of making Doha the "development round," declared the EU's sugar subsidies illegal. Though the ruling is "a triumph for developing countries," major subsidizers often ignore similar judgments, so it remains to be seen if these decisions will spur change. (Reuters)

International Groups Denounce World Trade Pact (August 2, 2004)

NGOs criticize the results of recent WTO meetings in Geneva. On the surface, agreements claim to minimize US agricultural subsidies and help struggling international markets, but critics fear that the effects of these recommendations will not be as positive as they seem, arguing that rich countries' unenforceable "vague promises" are made only "in return for key concessions by developing countries." (OneWorld US)

Barking Up the Wrong Tree: Agricultural Subsidies, Dumping and Policy Reform (June 14, 2004)

This article argues that agricultural subsidies imposed by developed nations are not the core problem for newly liberalized markets in developing countries. Policy makers should instead focus on dumping prevention and over production of key crops to reduce poverty. (Bridges Trade Monthly)

The Paradox of Agricultural Subsidies: Measurement Issues, Agricultural Dumping and Policy Reform (May 2004)

Through a case study of the US-Mexico maize trade, this paper argues that poor countries need to refocus their claims for fairer trade. Agricultural subsidies in rich countries are far less harmful to the agricultural sectors in poor countries than overproduction in key crops, dumping strategies and the power of a few agro-conglomerates. (Global Development and Environment Institute)

The Heavy Thud of American Cotton (May 10, 2004)

Clyde Prestowitz, President of the Economic Strategy Institute in Washington, argues that the WTOs ruling that US multibillion-dollar subsidies to domestic cotton producers violated international trade rules might "nudge" forward reform of the world's unfair and costly farm subsidy programs. (Christian Science Monitor)

EU Offers to Halt Farm Subsidies (May 10, 2004)

In a move to reignite world trade talks, the European Union (EU) has offered to stop subsidizing its farm exports. Poorer nations have long complained that farm subsidies, amounting to US$51 billion annually in the EU alone, give farmers from richer countries an unfair advantage by keeping prices artificially low. (BBC)

UNEP Endeavors to Reform Fishing Subsidies System (April 27, 2004)

UNEP contends that fishing subsidies distort trade markets, create overcapacity in fishing fleets, undermine food security, destroy jobs in the fisheries sector, increase poverty, and encourage the over-exploitation of the world's oceans. In combating these problems, UNEP's Executive Director, Klaus Toepfer, argues that the international community must reform the fishing industry's subsidy programmes. (China View)

Oxfam Welcomes News of WTO Ruling on Cotton, US Will Have to Reform Its Subsidy Program (April 27, 2004)

Brazil has won a "landmark trade battle" at the World Trade Organization (WTO) on cotton subsidies against the US. The WTO judged that US subsidies help depress world cotton prices and are an unfair trade practice. (Oxfam America)

Break Through the Cotton Barrier (March 26, 2004)

Cotton is one of the world's most heavily subsidized crops but also a significant export item for at least 20 of the 50 nations designated as least developed countries by the UN. In this article, Under-Secretary-General Anwarul K. Chowdhury urges governments to put an end to cotton subsidies, arguing that they "distort the global market at the expense of producers in poor countries." (International Herald Tribune)

Oxfam Welcomes Restart of Trade Talks (March 26, 2004)

Oxfam demands that WTO members change the "rules of trade" so that poor countries can also reap the benefits of international trade. Oxfam stresses that, as part of these changes, rich countries must end all forms of export subsidies that cause overproduction and subsequent dumping on world markets.

"White Gold" Turns to Dust: Which Way Forward for Cotton in West Africa? (March 2004)

West African farmers face severe deprivation as the price of cotton on the world market declines, largely because of the dumping of exports by the US, where overproduction is the result of government subsides worth $2.3 billion. (Oxfam)

Revealed: How Rich Landowners Are Making Millions from a Farm System That Fails Poor People (January 22, 2004)

Oxfam argues that seven of Britain's richest men earn over £2 million a year in farm subsidies from the European Union (EU), whilst the poor farmers in Britain and abroad, are "going under." Oxfam recommends that the EU redistribute these payments to smaller farmers and environmentally sustainable projects and put an end to subsidies that encourage overproduction, resulting in export dumping. (Make Trade Fair)



WTO Admits Stalemate Has Scuppered Relaunch of Global Trade Talks (December 16, 2003)

Trade negotiators deferred the formal relaunch of WTO trade talks for at least two more months, as they could not overcome the persisting deep differences between rich and poor countries. Poor countries express their disappointment with rich countries' stubbornness not to make concessions on farm subsidies and on market access for African cotton farmers. (Guardian)

Cotton Becomes a Litmus Test (September 11, 2003)

Four African states - Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mali - launched a "cotton initiative" for negotiations at the WTO, asking the US and the EU to take responsibility for their destructive trade policies and to end "unfair subsidies" granted to their cotton producers. (Inter Press Service)

EU Farm Chief Slams Poor Nations' Demands (September 5, 2003)

EU agriculture commissioner Franz Fischler ferociously attacked poor countries and development campaigners, dismissing their demand for ending the European protection regime as extreme and couched in "cheap propaganda". (Guardian)

Cancun: Subsidies for Agribusiness (September 2003)

This article from Le Monde diplomatique argues that the EU and the US, "to prevent more starvation in the South and deserted fields in the North," need to rebuild their agricultural policies, integrating the principle of sovereign control over food production.

Developing Nations Attack Trade Proposal (August 26, 2003)

Poor countries express discontent with the draft trade agreement for the Cancun Ministerial. The document incorporates much of a former US-EU compromise instead of bridging the different positions of rich and poor countries over agricultural trade reform. (Washington Post)

Poor Countries Present "Radical" Trade Plan (August 21, 2003)

Accounting for two thirds of the world's farmers, Brazil, India and China joined 13 other countries to present a counter-initiative to a US-EU agreement for the Cancun Ministerial. The countries demand a radical reform of agricultural policies to establish a fair international trade system. (Inter Press Service)

Napoleon's Bittersweet Legacy (August 11, 2003)

The EU sugar business, just like the US cotton business, could not survive in a fully liberalized global marketplace. This New York Times
article suggests that European leaders should seize the opportunity at Cancun to distance themselves from farm lobbies to achieve a fairer trade deal.

The Senegalese Chicken Is Debated at the WTO (August 5, 2003)

The modernization of Senegalese poultry farms was not enough to make them competitive with subsidized producers in the developed world. Libération blames the WTO Marrakesh agreement for the break-down of the country's chicken industry and calls for reform.

The Long Reach of King Cotton (August 5, 2003)

The US Farm Bill approved by Congress in 2002 impoverishes many cotton farmers in Burkina Faso. This New York Times article argues that the US cotton subsidies annihilate Washington's efforts to back debt-forgiveness programs for Burkina Faso.

The Mirage of Farm Exports (August 4, 2003)

IDEAs challenges the orthodoxy of the international trade discourse, which considers trade liberalization as the ultimate way for poor countries to reach prosperity. While demanding an end to agricultural subsidies, this paper says poor countries should remain aware of the risks of opening up markets to foreign competition.

False Promises on Trade (July 24, 2003)

The New York Times overstates the damage Northern agricultural subsidies do to Southern farmers, the authors contend. Poor countries could help their farmers more by restricting agricultural imports than by pressing rich countries to open their markets. (Center for Economic and Policy Research)

EU's Sugar Subsidies in a Jam (July 22, 2003)

Efficient sugar producers Brazil, Thailand, and Australia filed a suit at the WTO against EU sugar subsidies that lower the world price, reducing the income of poor farmers. (Inter Press Service)

The Rigged Trade Game (July 20, 2003)

Rich countries spend six times more money on subsidies for agro-business than on development aid, denying poor farmers the market-access and resources to work their way out of poverty. (New York Times)

Cottoning Onto Unfair Trade (July 15, 2003)

African nations need to be able to protect their industries and have greater market access in order to compete with heavily subsidized US firms. (Guardian)

European Agricultural Reforms: A Pig in a Poke? (June 30, 2003)

The EU will not phase out the €43 billion spent on agricultural subsides, and will continue to support the biggest farms. Critics contend that reforms have not gone far enough. (Christian Science Monitor)

EU Claims Historic Reform of European Agriculture, but Struggling Third World Farmers Say Dumping Will Go On (June 27, 2003)

The EU agreement to phase out subsidies will not require France to end direct payments to farmers until 2007, and excludes the sugar sector. The plan may cause more damage if it is used as a global precedent at the Cancun trade talks in September. (Independent)

How Europe Sows Misery in Africa (June 22, 2003)

EU subsidies, which give the average European cow about $2 a day, stifle agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa, where the average person earns less than $1 a day. (Washington Post)

President of Burkina Faso Denounces Rich Country Cotton Subsidies (June 10, 2003)

President Blaise Compaore of Burkina Faso calls on rich nations to end hypocritical subsidies to cotton producers, which cost developing countries far more than the developed world gives in aid. (WTO News)

Stop the Trans-Atlantic Food Fight (May 30, 2003)

The G8 conference in Evian gives a prime opportunity to France and the US, rivals on unfair trade practices, to team up and defend their rhetoric to help the world's poor. Doubt hangs over the two biggest proponents of agricultural subsidies, regardless of their global free market ideology. (International Herald Tribune)

Europe Is Making Progress On Reform of Farm Subsidies (May 29, 2003)

France considers reforming farm subsidies, after international criticism of commodity dumping on third world farmers. French propaganda stalls the crucial decision facing the EU about its Common Agricultural Policy before the Cancun WTO conference in September. (Wall Street Journal)

International Food Wars (April 2003)

An interview with Bruce Stokes highlights current issues and debates in international food policy. Skepticism of US genetically modified organisms (GMOs) grows and tension mounts over US and EU agricultural subsidies. (Foreign Policy)

Cotton Pickin' - The Phoney War over Farm Subsidies (March 5, 2003)

Kevin Watkins exposes US back-tracking on its promise to eliminate agricultural export subsidies for cotton. This process is devastating the livelihood of millions of West Africa's cotton farmers. (Guardian)

WTO Document Proposes Ending Farm Export Subsidies (February 12, 2003)

A leaked WTO document proposes to increase trade liberalization through the elimination of agricultural export subsidies. The proposal heightened tensions between members, especially the EU, whose farmers rely on these subsidies for their livelihoods. (Associated Press)

US Opening Offer for Americas Deal Ignores Farm Subsidies (February 11, 2003)

The US opened the Free Trade Area of the Americas negotiations with an offer to eliminate all tariffs on textile products from states in the Americas within five years. The US also demanded removal of duties on consumer and industrial goods, in which the US has a comparative advantage, but left farm subsidies in tact. (Inter Press Service)

Poor Mexico Farmers Boycott National Farming Policy Talks (February 10, 2003)

Three major farm coalitions boycotted a forum held by Mexican President Vicente Fox intended to devise ways to help Mexico's impoverished farmers. Small farmers claim that the agriculture clauses of the North American Free Trade Agreement have been disastrous for them, and complain that Mexico has been cutting subsidies while the US has raised them. (Associated Press)

Protecting Agriculture: "Zero-Tolerance" on Farm Subsidies (February 5, 2003)

This essay analyzes the dangers of developed nations' agricultural policies. The author presents detailed examples where OCED subsides contradict international development goals and subtract from the Northern free trade agenda. (Foreign Policy In Focus)

Small Farmers Seen Gaining Little from Subsidies (January 17, 2003)

An Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) study shows that agricultural subsidies in the US and EU overwhelmingly end up in the hands of landowners and agribusiness, not small farmers. The study argues that subsidies drive small family farms out of business by raising land prices and rewarding economies of scale. (International Herald Tribune)



Farmer Lobbies Corner Subsidies in US, UK (December 11, 2002)

The US and EU argue that their agricultural subsidies preserve small farmers' way of life. However, the Economic Times of India reveals that large-scale farmers in both the US and EU receive an enormous percentage of subsidies.

Short Takes a Tilt at CAP (November 19, 2002)

Britain's international development secretary, Clare Short, argues that EU farm subsidies destroy the integrity of the WTO's Doha "development" round trade talks and increase poverty in developing countries. (Guardian)

Bad News in Europe (November 1, 2002)

The EU touts its new enlargement framework as "a step toward trade reform by putting a cap on farm subsidies." Phillip Bowring of the International Herald Tribune argues that, to the contrary, the agreements further entrench farm subsidies, representing the "biggest single threat to international economic cooperation."

Berlin and Paris Agree to Cap EU Farm Spending (October 25, 2002)

France and Germany made a landmark decision to place a ceiling on agricultural subsidies, a controversial area consuming half of the EU's budget. This decision will reduce current member spending, while increasing funds available to new member countries in Eastern Europe and contribute significantly to a smooth integration. (International Herald Tribune)

Look Again at How to Help the Poor (October 16, 2002)

Representatives from Dutch farmers' organizations respond to criticism from developing countries and international institutions that agricultural subsidies in the rich world hurt farmers in impoverished countries. The article argues that, among other considerations, critics should instead address the growing influence of multinational corporations on agriculture. (International Herald Tribune)

Aid Irrelevant Unless Rich Countries Cut Subsidies: World Bank (October 11, 2002)

In a disapproving review of developed countries' agricultural subsidies, the World Bank acknowledges these barriers present a massive obstruction to achieving international development. World Bank and WTO leaders met yesterday, agreeing to produce a joint report on development issues in the upcoming months. (World Bank)

Cultivating Poverty: The Impact of US Cotton Subsidies on Africa (September 27, 2002)

Massive US cotton subsidies pose barriers to free trade and seriously damage the welfare of over ten million cotton producers in West Africa. This thorough policy paper notes in 2001, subsidies were greater than the domestic cotton's market value, resulting in a net cost to the US as Africa lost $301 million. (Oxfam International)

Stop the Dumping! How EU Agriculture Subsidies are Damaging Livelihoods in the Developing World (October 2002)

This Oxfam paper accuses the EU of dumping sugar and dairy products into developing countries, destroying the livelihoods of small farmers in Mozambique, India, and Jamaica. Oxfam calls on the EU to address the "devastating" impact of subsidies by promoting policy reforms.

The Great Sugar Scam (August 2002)

Oxfam examines how EU sugar subsidies have a damaging effect on trade, production, and the development of poor economies. While the EU does give market access to former colonies, these concessions do little to spur development.

South America Up in Arms Over US Farm Bill (May 10, 2002)

The US Congress' passage of the farm subsidy bill receives negative reactions in the global trade arena, particularly among South American countries threatening to bring the case before the WTO. The bill exemplifies US hypocrisy as an advocate of free trade. (Inter Press Service)

Who Really Pays to Help US Farmers? (May 6, 2002)

A new bill giving increased subsidies to US farmers will ensure the US implements the "most reviled" agricultural policy in the eyes of developing countries, replacing the EU's long-hated common agricultural policy. (Washington Post)

The Bananas for Banking Agenda (April 17, 2002)

The EU has issued a 1000-page, "mind-numbingly" detailed report listing trading-partners it believes operate unfair trade rules. The list comes in response to pressure on Brussels to dismantle the system of agricultural subsidies known as the common agricultural policy. (Guardian)

Agricultural Subsidies In Rich Countries: Barriers to Fair Trade for Africa (April 6, 2002)

"While mouthing the glories of laissez faire capitalism," rich countries "wantonly invoke" protectionist schemes to protect private interests. Agricultural subsidies, which exceed the value of foreign aid offered to developing countries by a factor of six, provide a perfect example of this contradiction. (Yellow Times)

Japan, EU Agree to Block Farm Trade Liberalization (October 14, 2001)

Japan and the EU will continue to cooperate on farm trade, resulting in a strong opposition towards liberalizing farm trade. At the same time, both developed and developing countries around the world demand fair trade. (Japan Times)

Links and Resources

Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP)

Based in Minnesota, the IATP provides critical views of international trade policy, sustainable agriculture, biodiversity and intellectual property rights, environmental issues, and more. The site includes many valuable links to other sites in the field of international trade, trade law, and the like.


An NGO that examines agricultural subsidies and other structural problems behind poverty and injustice.

The World Trade Organization

An international organization that deals with the rules of trade between its member nations.



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