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US Cotton and Crop Subsidies Are Impoverishing Small Farmers Worldwide & Damaging the Environment

Press Release APRIL 8, 2005 12:08 PM

CONTACT: Oxfam America
Laura Rusu of Oxfam America 202-496-3620 or 202-459-3739

Reforming Farm Program Can Help American Family Farmers, Developing Countries, and the Environment, Groups Say; News Briefing April 13

WASHINGTON -- April 8 -- News Advisory:

WHAT: Massive U.S. agricultural subsidies are jeopardizing the livelihoods of small family farmers in America and developing countries alike while also harming the environment, according to a growing number of leaders in many fields around the world. Six of those leaders will share their perspectives at a news briefing in Washington on April 13.

A recent World Bank report outlines how domestic policies in industrial countries that subsidize their farmers and protect their markets inflict substantial harm on producers in developing countries. By Oxfam¹s estimates, the dumping of U.S. cotton (one of this country¹s most heavily subsidized
crops) on the world market resulted in losses of nearly $400 million over three years for poor cotton-producing countries in Africa. Such subsidies violate global trade rules, the World Trade Organization has declared.

Farm subsidies also threaten the environment. By encouraging overproduction and driving down commodity prices, subsidies force many small farmers to try to grow crops in marginal or wild land, resulting in a downward spiral of shrinking biodiversity and increasing poverty.

A growing coalition of organizations focusing on agriculture, international development, human rights, religion, and the environment recognizes that one key to lifting millions of people out of poverty is reexamining farm subsidies and reforming farm programs in the United States and Europe. This briefing will explain why that issue has become urgent.

Mary Robinson, executive director, Ethical Globalization
Initiative; Former President of Ireland and U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights ? Ian Goldin, vice president, External Affairs and United Nations Affairs, World Bank Group ? William Reilly, chair, World Wildlife Fund ? Barbara Fiorito, chair, Oxfam America ? Bishop Jean Gabriel Diarra, Bishop of the Diocese of San, Mali ? Brother David Andrews, executive director, National Catholic Rural Life Conference

WHEN: Wednesday, April 13, 10 to 11 a.m.

WHERE: First Amendment Room, National Press Club, 529 14th Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20045

WHY: This event has been organized in conjunction with the Global Week of Action for Trade Justice, taking place April 10 - 16. Millions of people in over 70 countries will participate in events throughout the week. In the United States, Oxfam America supporters have organized more than 250 events in 43 states. Together, supporters are creating a movement in support of a leveled playing field for farmers, fair trade coffee and other products, and against unfair trade agreements.

Oxfam America is dedicated to finding long-term solutions to poverty, hunger and social injustice around the world. Oxfam works to improve trade policies so that millions of farmers here and abroad can make a living and lift themselves out of poverty. For more information, please visit