That is the question.
Paul Wolfowitz, now head of the World Bank, thinks cutting subsidies to richer countries will help out the poorer. Fair enough. But while this might be a great idea for the world, it sounds like a bad idea for American (and “First World”) farmers.
On a tour of a cotton-processing factory in Burkina Faso, Wolfowtiz said the World Bank would have a “strong voice” at the Doha trade talks to make a case for wealthy nations to reduce agricultural subsidies worldwide.
Subsidies are actually one of America’s dirty little secrets. We pay farmers to grow things that otherwise wouldn’t be profitable so we’ll have raw material in case our trade somehow suddenly gets cut off. However, since that’s NEVER going to happen, it makes our goods cheaper to sell and therefore destroys economies that can only look to agricultural means to build their economy.
Developing countries complain they are pushed out of the market by the subsidies rich nations pay their cotton farmers, and argue the huge subsidies to U.S. cotton producers – which at $4 billion are larger than the whole Burkina Faso economy – are the cause of a collapse in cotton prices.
I’m torn on this one. Part of me understands why subsidies are needed, while the other part of me knows that without rolling them back a bit, poorer countries will never have a chance to succeed.