Friday, 16 May 2008

As farm subsidies increase, hell freezes over...

This just in - I am in agreement with President George W. Bush. This is unheard of.

It has to do with US farm subsidies. Congress apparently just overwhelmingly voted for a $307 billion bill which is mainly meant to subsidize American farmers when prices for food is at an all time high. One might claim that this could drive down food prices, but in fact, this is exactly the problem. A major problem in Africa (as I learned from reading my excellent African history book, The State of Africa) is that African farming has been consistently underpriced by American farmers because of such subsidies, and has subsequently badly increased the level of poverty. As Martin Meredith says in my book,

Western surpluses produced at a fraction of their real cost are... dumped on African markets, undermining domestic producers. Simultaneously, African products face tariff barriers imposed by industrialized countries, effectively shutting them out of Western markets...


According to Oxfam, the trade losses associated with US farm subsidies that West Africa's eight main cotton exporters suffered outweighed the benefits they received from US aid.



I do think that the West needs to be playing an active role in helping developing countries. But I think it must be in a role that treats them as equal partners and helps them to become self-sufficient. Actively destroying their livelihoods in order to protect poor ol' American mega-farmers is NOT needed, even though it's been going on for years.

I'm particularly shocked by the whole thing because the bill is massively supported by both democrats and republicans, such that it is veto proof, even though Bush has threatened to veto it. Those who claim to stand for the underprivileged are screwing them, while Bush seems to be on the moral, but losing side...

My mind is blown.

1 comment:

Sona said...

Hi Alex, I have no comment. Just wanted to say Hi!!! I'll email you soon - it's been too long.
- ciao