The recently failed WTO negotiations have revealed something interesting; Grassley is willing to reduce agricultural supports. Senator Grassley, ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over international trade, recently stated that the U.S. was willing to reduce allowable support for agriculture from $48 billion to $15 billion to achieve a successful WTO negotiation.
This appears to be a reversal of sorts for the Senator who strongly support the $289 billion farm bill that was passed by Congress this past spring. Reversal may be too strong of a word. Grassley initially supported greater restrictions on farm subsidies, but he compromised his principals and threw his full support behind the bill that eventually became law.
Why is the senator now willing to reduce subsidies when he did not fight hard for cuts in the farm bill? My concern is that Grassley was only willing to support these cuts knowing that the WTO negotiations would fail again. I will give the senator the benefit of the doubt in this case and assume that he truly willing to cut agricultural supports. If this is the case, why did he not fight harder to cut subsidies in the farm bill? Taxpayers are paying out high subsidies to family farmers and corporate farmers alike. They are providing support to poor farmers and millionaires that own farms. And, these subsidies are being paid out at a time when record high commodity prices are the norm. Taxpayers deserve a break from taxes and inflated food prices. Farm subsidies should be cut regardless of the WTO negotiations; it is the right thing to do. Yes the high subsidies can be used as a negotiating chip at WTO talks, but is that worth the cost to American tax payers? The answer is no.
Originally posted 08/07/2008 on Grassley Watch