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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
AUGUST 27, 2002
8:58 PM
CONTACT:  Food First
Anuradha Mittal 011-27-82-858-8047
Nick Parker (510) 654-4400, ext 229
Activists Refute US Government Misinformation at Sustainability Summit
Food First Releases Report Showing US Farm Bills Threat to Small Farmers Throughout the World
 

JOHANNESBURG - August 27 - At a non-governmental organization (NGO) briefing at the World Summit on Sustainable Development today, Food First/the Institute for Food and Development Policy, a U.S.-based NGO, together with activists from developing countries, criticized the U.S. delegation's attempt to sell the recently passed 2002 Farm Bill as a"conservation" bill.

Addressing a U.S. delegation-sponsored NGO meeting, Jim Moseley, Deputy Secretary, U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, and Jennifer Haverkamp, Assistant U.S. Trade Representative, praised the U.S. farm bill and U.S. farm policy in general, as something which "promotes development in the Third World." Questioning by activists drew the comment that proposals to protect agriculture and farmer communities in the Third World through domestic supports, would be fiercely resisted by the U.S.

Small farmers throughout the Third World have seen prices for their crops plummet, as heavily subsidized crops from industrialized countries have been dumped in their local economies, collapsing local agricultural markets and throwing many small farmers out of business. The United States, in its pursuit of trade, has aggressively sought out these foreign markets for its agriculture, and today one out of three acres planted in the United States is exported.

"To call the Farm Bill a conservation bill is outrageous. It conserves nothing but the dominance of U.S. corporate agriculture, and spells doom for the family farmer both in the United States and the Third world," said Anuradha Mittal, Food First co-director who is attending the World Summit on Sustainable Agriculture in Johannesburg."The battle lines at this summit have been drawn between the poor countries and the rich. The farm bill is a fearsome stick with which to beat small farmers the world over."

Food First has just released a report, "Giving Away the Farm: The 2002 Farm Bill," that sheds light on the implications of the bill for small farmers, trade, and agricultural sustainability. The report contends that the bill is designed to benefit the largest U.S. agritrade corporations, with U.S. government subsidies are directed toward export crops such as cotton, rice, soybeans, and wheat.

"The bill betrays the United States' real interest at the WSSD. The delegation doesn't care about the environment, only the economy -- the economy of the rich, not the poor. One of the great myths perpetrated by the EU and the United States for the past few decades is that free trade helps small farmers and the poor. But it doesn't. Attempts to leave farmers at the mercy of the free market only accomplish their hastened demise," said Mittal."And with this farm bill, the only winners are the corporations that have access to the cheap commodities created by subsidies, so they can export these crops and sell them below market prices."

The report concludes that the farm bill points to the hypocrisy of the industrialized nations in trade negotiations, renews the call for the World Trade Organization to get out of agriculture, and demands that governments to uphold the rights of all people to food sovereignty.

For more information on the Farm Bill and to read the full report, please visit:

HTML - http://www.foodfirst.org/pubs/backgrdrs/2002/s02v8n3.html
PDF - http://www.foodfirst.org/pubs/backgrdrs/2002/s02v8n3.pdf

To talk with Anuradha Mittal, in Johannesburg, please call 011-27-82-858-8047 or call Nick Parker in the U.S. at (510) 654-4400, ext 229

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