British PM wants end to farm subsidies
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown urged rich countries on Tuesday to end agricultural subsidies, and said he will press for a global trade agreement to help the world's poorest farmers escape poverty, the AP reported.
In a video address to a meeting of the U.N. Economic and Social Council on the global food crisis, Brown called for governments and donors to provide much greater support for agricultural development.
Brown called for sound policies on property, on agricultural taxes, and on price controls on commodities. He also urged stepped up investments in agricultural research to improve crop yields, irrigation and rural roads, especially in Africa.
"Rich countries must also stop undermining the livelihoods of the poorest through agricultural subsidies and dumping," Brown said.
"It is unacceptable that rich countries still subsidize farming by $1 billion a day, costing poor farmers in developing countries an estimated $100 billion a year in lost income," he said.
"We must go further" in reforming the European Union and the U.S. agricultural policies.
At the global level, he said, "the world needs a fair global trading system that gives farmers in poor countries better access to the markets of the rich countries."
Brown said talks on a new global trade deal "are at a critical moment."
"In the coming days I will be speaking to leaders to build support for a World Trade Organization deal by the end of June - a deal that helps the poorest farmers lift themselves out of poverty," Brown said.
Brown said the immediate challenge is to help those most affected by responding to the U.N. World Food Program's emergency appeal.
Malawi's President Bingu wa Mutharika, in a separate video message, urged donor nations to think about investing heavily in agricultural production rather than just shipping food grains.
He called for a global dialogue to ensure that international needs are considered alongside narrower national interests.