U.S. Cotton Subsidies Hurt West African Poor
July 30, 2007
Eliminating U.S. cotton subsidies to American farmers would raise the world price for cotton by 6 to 14 percent, increase prices that West African farmers receive for their cotton by 5 to 12 percent and boost the farmers' incomes by 2.3 to 5.7 percent, UC Davis agricultural economists report in a study commissioned by the international relief and development organization Oxfam America.
Added income from increased cotton prices could feed an additional million children for a year or pay school fees for at least two million children living in extremely poor West African cotton-growing households, the researchers concluded in their study, "Impacts of Reductions in U.S. Cotton Subsidies on West African Cotton Producers."
Oxfam is working to curtail cotton subsidies in the 2007 Farm Bill. The organization argues that the subsidies do little to help American farmers and rural communities while hurting farmers in developing countries.
"Previous studies my colleagues and I have done clearly show the trade-distorting effects of U.S. cotton subsidies by lowering the world price of cotton, with results at the aggregate level," said Daniel Sumner, professor of agricultural and resource economics at UC Davis, director of the University of California Agricultural Issues Center and an author of the Oxfam-funded study. He conducted the study with Julian Alston, also a professor of agricultural and resource economics at UC Davis.
"These new numbers show that even a modest increase in the world price of cotton that only partly reaches the farmer could greatly improve the daily lives of some of the world's poorest people, and could literally mean that millions of poor people could be fed," Sumner said.
The current farm law expires Sept. 30. The Senate is due to begin its consideration of the legislation in September.
Learn more: http://www.oxfamamerica.org/newsandpublications/publications/research_reports/paying-the-price.
Daniel Sumner, Agricultural and Resource Economics, (530) 752-1668, firstname.lastname@example.org
Claudia Morain, UC Davis News Service, (530) 752-9841, cmmo