Published on 01/20/05

World trade affects Georgia crops

By Sydne Moody
University of Georgia

If a farmer decides to grow more cotton in Georgia, will a farmer in Brazil care? You bet he will, says the eminent economist who delivered the annual J.W. Fanning lecture at the University of Georgia Jan. 14.

Joseph Glauber, deputy chief economist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, gave the crowd attending the lecture and awards program some insights into the future of multilateral trade negotiations under the World Trade Organization.

Glauber represents U.S. agricultural policymakers in negotiations with the other 147 countries that are members of the WTO. He was involved in trade negotiations at the Uruguay Round in the early 1990s, the Brazil case against U.S. cotton subsidies and now the Doha Round of WTO negotiations.

Brazil case and U.S. cotton

After providing a brief history of the WTO, Glauber explained the importance of specific trade discussions and their relationship with U.S. agricultural policies. He pointed to the Brazil case and its impact on the starting point for the Doha Round, the next round of trade negotiations.

The United States is appealing the decision in the Brazil case, which ruled that U.S. cotton subsidies distorted the world market. Brazil argues that the subsidies for cotton growers cause U.S. cotton production to increase, disrupting the flow of the market.

Glauber said the United States spends $10 billion to $20 billion annually on subsidies. That's a large sum, he said, compared to other countries. Some, such as New Zealand, he said, don't grant subsidies to farmers at all.

The WTO is considering the U.S. appeal. But if the ruling holds, U.S. agricultural policy will have to change.

The Doha Round of trade negotiations could bring further changes, Glauber said. The negotiations aim to liberalize trade. One way to do this is to reduce all types of restrictions and subsidies.

"Under the Doha Round, the focus of domestic support negotiations should be less on the level of support and more on the type of support," Glauber said.

"Farm policies will continue to be dominated by budget considerations," he said. "But policymakers will need to be mindful of how policies reflect WTO commitments."

Award recipients

Following the lecture, annual awards were presented to UGA alumni and students.

Marie Truesdell received the Distinguished Young Professional Award. She chairs the department of business at Marian College in Indianapolis, Ind.

Gary W. Black and Tassos Haniotis each received Distinguished Professional Awards. Black has been the president of the Georgia Agribusiness Council for 15 years. Haniotis has recently become the head of the agricultural trade policy analysis unit of the European Commission's Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development.

Four students were elected into Who's Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges for their outstanding achievements. The luncheon honored:

* Candice Clark, a senior agribusiness major from Rochelle, Ga.

* Joel McKie, a senior agribusiness major from Abbeville, Ga.

* Clint Murphy, a December 2004 agribusiness graduate from Moultrie, Ga.

* Xiaohui "Sarah" Deng, a doctoral student in agricultural economics originally from Qingdao, China.

The lecture series honors J.W. Fanning for his contributions to Georgia agriculture and the University of Georgia. It's sponsored by the Agricultural Economics Association of Georgia, the UGA agricultural and applied economics department, the Fanning Institute for Leadership and the Office of International Public Service and Outreach.

Sydne Moody is a student writer with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.