Opinions on U.S. Subsidy Cut Vary Greatly

WTO members, lawmakers and ag groups have wide variety of takes on proposal.

U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab made a proposal at the World Trade Organization ministerial meeting in Geneva Tuesday saying the U.S. would be willing to cut trade-distorting subsidies to $15 billion annually. This is a substantial reduction from the $17 billion that the U.S. put forward last year, but the cut is contingent on greater market access to developing nations.

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, was enthusiastic about the offer saying it signals that the U.S. is ready to negotiate in good faith and get this round done. However Harkin also voiced the importance of other countries stepping up.

"This proposal must be met with comparable initiatives on the part of other key WTO members in the areas of agricultural and industrial goods market access," Harkin said. "I remain hopeful that an agreement is within reach."

Bob Stallman, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, chose not to comment on the offer and National Farmers Union President Tom Buis spoke briefly, saying that the offer didn't guarantee the U.S. would get anything in return.

While the European Union responded positively to the move, Brazil said the U.S. needed to go further. A delegate from Brazil said it was a nice try, but was still too high.

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