Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Farm subsidies opposed

Catholic News Service reports that the Vatican has said justice requires wealthy nations to reconsider the level of subsidies they offer their own farmers and the barriers that countries place on the import of agricultural products from developing nations:
In the position paper, the Vatican said the conference must give priority to the "longing for justice and the desire for development" of poor people living in rural areas in the developing world.

By helping them, the Vatican said, the world will improve food security, promote environmentally sound farming methods and make real strides toward alleviating poverty since "three-quarters of the world's poor live in rural areas."

The full article is here.

Today's Wall Street Journal follows up with a front page story:
A movement to uproot crop subsidies, which have been worth nearly $600 billion to U.S. farmers over the decades, is gaining ground in some unlikely places -- including down on the farm.

In Iowa, one of the most heavily subsidized states, a Republican running to be state agriculture secretary is telling big farmers they should get smaller checks. Mark W. Leonard, who collects subsidies himself and campaigns in a white cowboy hat, told a room full of farmers recently that federal payments spur overproduction, which depresses prices for poor growers overseas.

"From a Christian standpoint, what it is doing to Africa tugs at your heartstrings," Mr. Leonard told them. Last year, he helped humanitarian group Oxfam International in its anti-subsidy campaign by escorting a cotton farmer from Mali to church gatherings near his farm in Holstein.