WTO RULING COULD IMPACT FRUIT AND VEGETABLE ACREAGE
The Bush Administration has lost its appeal of a World Trade Organization (WTO) ruling that said $2.7 billion-a-year in aid to U.S. cotton farmers is illegal. The Thursday (March 3) ruling could have long-term implications for a wide range of U.S. farm supports and policies, including the current policy that restricts fruit and vegetable production on acreage already subsidized for program crops such as rice or soybeans.
The ruling is the first to target domestic agricultural aid. Brazil, which brought the initial WTO case, has already challenged European sugar export support and is now complaining over aid to U.S. soybean farmers. Experts believe the cotton finding leaves U.S. and EU farm programs much more vulnerable to challenges of a broad range of farm subsidy programs.
FFVA has helped lead produce industry efforts to keep so-called "flex-acres" provisions in U.S. farm policy. Retained in the 2002 farm bill, these provisions restrict planting of fruit and vegetable crops on program crop acres.
"Allowing subsidized growers to compete with Florida's fruit and vegetable producers is patently unfair," said FFVA President Mike Stuart. "We have a serious fight ahead of us for the next farm bill to maintain this planting restriction."
For more information, contact FFVA's Mike Stuart or Ray Gilmer.
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