President George W. Bush announced Thursday, July 7, that he hopes to abolish all farm subsidies in the next five years.
"We want to work with the EU to rid our respective countries of agricultural subsidies," Bush told reporters at a meeting of world leaders in Gleneagles, Scotland.
"I hope that by 2010 the Doha Round (trade negotiations) will achieve that objective," Bush said.
According to CNN's Money website, U.S. officials later confirmed that Bush was referring to the phasing-put of all farm aid in general, not merely subsidies for farm exports.
AFC President Tommy Paulk expressed disappointment in Bush's remarks. "It's unfortunate that Mr. Bush does not seem to understand the importance of protecting our nation's food supply," Paulk said, and added, "Our country cannot afford to depend upon foreign governments for food like we do today for oil. The president of the United States, of all people, should know that."
"Europe's leaders have not forgotten that many of their citizens went hungry during WWII, and they learned a hard, but valuable lesson from that experience. That is why the EU continues to spend almost triple the amount spent by the U.S. on farm programs," Paulk continued.
The current U.S. farm bill is set to expire in 2007, and congressional hearings on a new farm bill are expected next year. U.S. farm bills have typically lasted for 5 years or more, which gives farmers time to plan and budget for capital expenditures necessary for efficient production.
The next test of administration philosophy about farm programs will come in December of this year, when the Dona Round of trade talks will reach a critical point as trade ministers come together to negotiate in Hong Kong.
The U.S. currently spends some $47 billion per year on farm programs, while the EU is spending some $133 billion.