Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.
To continue our review of where the 2008 presidential candidates stand on our country's agricultural landscape, I'm going to turn the spotlight on Mitt Romney, who is basking in the glow of his recent primary success. It's not an easy task, however, because unlike the candidates who double as senators, he hasn't had the responsibility of going public with his convictions in the form of a vote for or against the 2007 farm bill. (I'm sure he's disappointed.) A search for information on his position produced a few statements, mostly in opposition to subsidy reform. He has stated that reducing subsidy payments to U.S. farmers would put us at a competitive disadvantage to the countries that have yet to do so.
The problem is, our massive subsidy system is putting the rest of the world at a competitive disadvantage, an offense that will not be (and has not been) overlooked by the World Trade Organization (WTO), who in turn promise to put us at a disadvantage anyway, by authorizing affected countries to impose trade sanctions. In a nutshell: The billions (more than $12 billion in 2002 alone) of dollars in tax money paid to our farmers makes it possible for them to produce a lot of cheap food, a luxury not enjoyed by the vast majority of countries worldwide. This translates into what the WTO has termed 'trade distortion,' and last month, they sided with Brazil in their suit against the United States and our cotton subsidies. Read more about the proposed sanctions here.