The National Cotton Council opposes any efforts to further limit U.S. cotton policy in the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) December Ministerial in Nairobi, Kenya.
That was one of the key messages NCC President/CEO Gary Adams delivered during his October 21 testimony before the House Agriculture Committee’s hearing: “Foreign Subsidies: Jeopardizing Free Trade and Harming American Farmers.”
Adams’ testimony came as the Memphis-based NCC continues its active engagement with U.S. trade officials at the WTO, as well as with Congress, to ensure U.S. trade negotiators maintain a firm commitment not to accept any further concessions to U.S. cotton policy.
He stated that there have been repeated comments from numerous countries for there to be “something more” done on cotton policy at this upcoming Ministerial but, “we believe that the actions already taken by the United States with respect to cotton policy should be more than sufficient to allow U.S. negotiators to resist any further calls for concessions on cotton.”
Adams told the Committee that U.S. cotton farmers are indeed competing with international farmers who are benefitting from higher support levels. He cited a recent International Cotton Advisory Committee report that estimated average direct assistance to cotton production across all countries at $0.26 per pound — but only $0.07 per pound average support for U.S. cotton production.
Adams also reiterated U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman’s comments before the Senate Finance Committee earlier this year that a defensive posture regarding U.S. cotton support is outdated and justifies a shift in focus to other countries’ status regarding their WTO obligations.
The NCC will continue to urge U.S. negotiators to push other countries to be as current and as transparent as the United States is with their domestic support notifications, Adams stated, while emphasizing that U.S. programs are not having a detrimental impact on world markets or producers in other countries.
“Under the current farm law, U.S. cotton farmers are even more attuned to market conditions,” Adams said. “For the U.S. cotton industry to sustain production and infrastructure, it is imperative that production and trade policies in other countries not put U.S. farmers at a disadvantage.
“I encourage the House Agriculture Committee and our negotiators to hold firmly to the position that agricultural markets have changed over the past decade, and that U.S. cotton policy has evolved in ways that far exceed the previous demands within the WTO,” he continued. “A cotton-specific ‘solution’ focused on developed countries does not address the realities of today’s global fiber markets.”
Source – National Cotton Council