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Subsidies Hurt Small Farmers Worldwide

September 15, 2003

Re "Poor Nations Unite Against Subsidies," Sept. 10: Direct U.S. subsidies on the breakfast foods of corn, wheat, rice, sugar and milk average $10 billion per year. The U.S. tariffs on orange juice cost Brazil $1 billion per year. Coffee companies earn substantial profits while small growers face devastating losses, and the banana trade is so powerful that it can bypass social and environmental protections in tropical countries.

One billion people in developing countries live on $1 a day, while developed countries are responsible for close to $1 billion per day in agricultural protections. Two-thirds of America's farms received no government payments, but 10% of the largest farms received two-thirds of all government assistance. California, which ranks No. 1 in the country for agricultural production, ranks No. 11 in subsidies over a seven-year period.

The current array of subsidies, loans, import quotas, tariffs, double standards, dumping strategies, price guarantees, foreign direct investment and lawsuits is not helping small and mid-sized American farmers -- or helping California. They are disasters to family farmers worldwide.

Mary Sweeney

Orange

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