Whatever happened to pro-trade farmers?
Whatever happened to farmers as supporters of free trade anyway? The economic picture hasn’t really changed that much – more trade generally means more farm exports and cheaper farm equipment – since the first protective tariffs were introduced in the US over the opposition of farmers.
“The problem is that the round has been pushed, up until now, into an agricultural siding by very aggressive agricultural exporters – the US, Brazil, Australia, countries like this – who, in my view, have interests that don’t coincide with the interests of a vast number of developing countries for whom this round is supposed to be operating.”
In the case of the US, there’s an added bonus for farmers to pushing the WTO talks ahead. Increased global trade tends to mean increased demand for dollars as the primary currency of trade. That’s one of the big factors supporting the dollar and financing the twin deficits. The increased demand for dollars in international trade keeps the dollar strong and makes the imported farm equipment, or the imported steel to build farm equipment, even cheaper. It also leaves more money in the pockets of US consumers, to buy farm products domestically.