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RMFU alarmed at proposed cuts in ag spending

DENVER– Rocky Mountain Farmers Union President John Stencel today expressed strong opposition to the announced trade proposal offered by U.S. Trade Ambassador Rob Portman that would reduce supports by 60 percent, from $19.1 billion to $7.6 billion, requiring significant changes in commodity support programs for wheat, corn, soybeans, sugar, milk, cotton and rice. Stencel noted the current $19.1 billion will rise as commodity prices fall and funding goes towards relief efforts for disasters such as Hurricane Katrina.

“Ambassador Portman has placed the American farmer and rancher as the sacrificial lamb at the alter of free trade in an attempt to save a failed round of international trade negotiations, best known as the Doha Round of the World Trade Organization (WTO),” said Stencel.

“The proposal would allow the non-elected international WTO to dictate how we farm and ranch, eliminating our sovereign right to set domestic food and fiber policies,” said Stencel. “We acknowledge the need for reforms in U.S. farm policy, necessary to sustain family agriculture and provide programs for low income Americans.”

Requirements for Brazil and Argentina, major export competition for U.S. producers in corn, beef, sugar and ethanol, as well as other developing countries to comply with the proposed cuts are currently absent from the proposal.

“We appreciate the challenges facing many developing countries around the world fighting to find a way to feed their growing populations,” said Stencel. “However, agricultural countries like Brazil and Argentina are as advanced as the United States and should not continue to be given preferential treatment in international trade agreements.”

Numerous trade agreements, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement, have been approved over the last 15 years, and have fallen short of their promise to the U. S. farmer of greater market access and higher farm incomes.

“The impact of this misguided trade proposal will be felt well beyond the farm gate. Declining land values will impact financial institutions and the loss of farmers and ranchers will result in fewer purchases of farm implements and other farm services. We must develop international trade policies beneficial to farmers and ranchers through out the world, said Stencel.