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Wednesday, 19 December, 2001, 10:56 GMT
US farm subsidy sparks fresh row
President Bush
The Republican bill was backed by the White House
Fresh moves to offer subsidies to US farmers have reunited the debate over whether this domestic aid contravenes the spirit of world trade rules.

Two bills - one Democratic and one Republican - have both become bogged down in the US Senate.

Farm groups fear that if a law isn't put in place before Christmas, it will be dropped as the money is spent elsewhere.

Both bills increase spending on farm programmes and offer some form of subsidy.

Hypocritical

Late on Tuesday, the US Senate rejected a Republican farm bill that would have created subsidised savings accounts for farmers.

Mike Espy
Mike Espy questions whether the bill is hypocritical
The Republican bill was an alternative to a Democratic bill, which raised crop subsidies linked to falling commodity prices.

The two bills would increase spending on farm programs by nearly 80% over the next years and authorise farm and nutrition programme until 2006.

Mike Espy, secretary for agriculture when the US pledged to roll back subsidies in the 1990s, said: "It is a bit hypocritical, in light of the US position advocated over the past few years in the WTO and it is quite embarrassing, I believe, to the administration....President Bush has not offered its support formally for this effort."

"You have a clash domestically here between the executive branch, which is generally more tuned to international mandates...against more domestic emphasis."

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Mike Espy, former Agriculture secretary
"I think it is a bit hypocritical"
See also:

03 Dec 99 | Business
Farm fight follies
15 Jun 01 | Business
China and US seal crucial farm deal
24 Nov 99 | Business
Policing world trade
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