STATEMENT OF HOUSE AGRICULTURE COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN BOB GOODLATTE AND RANKING MEMBER CHARLIE STENHOLM REGARDING WTO RULING AGAINST U.S. FARM PROGRAMS
"We are aware from press reports that the WTO dispute settlement panel on cotton has reached an interim decision. I expect that Secretary Veneman and Ambassador Zoellick will to the extent they can, discuss this matter in our hearing tomorrow. Reports indicate that the Administration intends to appeal this WTO decision. We support that action.
However, there are certain principles that we believe are important to state.
Under the WTO rules, countries are permitted to support their farmers in ways that are the least trade distorting. WTO rules govern the amounts countries may provide their farmers. The United States abides by the WTO rules and is, and has been, in accord with its rules on agriculture.
World trade in agriculture is highly competitive and barriers, such as high tariffs, are rampant. Countries regularly deny access for U.S. agricultural products for many reasons, including non-scientific barriers for U.S. beef, grains and fruits and vegetables. We have said repeatedly that gaining access for U.S. agricultural products is the most important objective of the ongoing WTO negotiations. Our agricultural tariffs are low; the average is 12%, while worldwide agricultural tariffs average 62%.
Changes to countries' agricultural policies should come through the give and take of negotiations, not through decisions that do not appear based on WTO rules."