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Free Trade in Agriculture: A Debate

March 2007

Foreign Policy in Focus (a joint project of the Institute for Policy Studies and the International Relations Center) recently invited Anuradha Mittal (of the Oakland Institute) and Gawain Kripke (of Oxfam America) to debate free trade. Anuradha was also on a recent panel with Colin Rajah (of the National Netowrk on Immigrant and Refugee Rights) titled, “A Perfect Storm: U.S. Trade, Agriculture and Immigration Policies Undermining Human Rights” that Grassroots International organized at the International Human Rights Funders Group conference in January 2007.


A Debate on Free Trade

Foreign Policy In Focus asked Anuradha Mittal of the Oakland Institute and Gawain Kripke of Oxfam America the following questions:

  • Is it possible or desirable to construct an agricultural subsidy system in the North that protects small farmers in both the North and South?
  • Is there a role for protective tariffs for agriculture in the global south?
  • Some argue that agriculture should not be included in tariff reduction discussions at the WTO. Is this advisable or even possible?

Mittal argues that “the most forceful justification for agricultural subsidies is that they are needed to save small farmers and preserve a way of life. The current agricultural subsidy system in rich countries, however, has only contributed to the decline of the countryside both in the North and the South”…

Kripke writes that “this year may prove critical for the intertwined puzzles of trade rules, agriculture policy, development, and hunger. As Americans, perhaps the most proximal issue for us is the Farm Bill, which will be considered by Congress this year”…

FPIF notes that “while they agree on many points, here they also take issue with each other’s positions.”

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