Agricultural Subsidies and Trade: The Key Alternatives
By Peter Rosset | Spring 2005
We hear a lot in the media about "trade wars" between the United States and Europe, about steel quotas and cotton subsidies, and about how dissatisfied poor countries are with global trade rules. In fact, recent world history has been marked by a global controversy over trade agreements and so-called "free trade." Within this larger controversy, issues of agricultural trade and farm subsidies have played a central role.
For most people, it isn't really clear what this is all about. But in reality, what's at stake is not just relatively narrow measures like trade volumes, economic growth rates and farm productivity, but rather the very future of our global food system.
What is being negotiated—in a world where nearly half the population goes hungry—is the ability of every woman, man, and child on this planet to feed themselves. The future of each country's unique agriculture and farming systems, and of the livelihoods of rural people worldwide, is quite literally in play.
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