US Civil society call upon US Govt. to support G33 Food Security Proposal

Delivery date: 
26 November, 2013

Ambassador Mike Froman

United State Trade Representative (USTR)

Office of the United States Trade Representative

600 17th Street NW

Washington, DC 20508

 

Ambassador Michael Punke

Deputy USTR and Permanent Representative to the World Trade Organization

U.S. Mission

11 Route de Pregny

1292 Chambesy-Geneva

Switzerland

Dear Ambassador Froman,

We write to express our dismay at U.S. opposition to proposals at the World Trade Organization (WTO) by developing countries to address their food security objectives, including reducing volatility in food prices and supplies. We urge you to support the G33’s proposal to allow for greater public spending to ensure more stable food supplies and prices.

Food prices have been extremely volatile in recent years. This has been harmful to farmers in the global North and South. We continue to call for the establishment of grain reserves to dampen that volatility and advance fair prices for farmers everywhere. Grain reserves are neither simple nor cheap to operate. Yet the alternatives are worse. The lack of insurance against market failure cost enormous sums of money in emergency assistance, money the international community has to pay. The lack of provision for instability also costs lives – lives lost to hunger as an immediate consequence, and lives blighted for several generations by the effects of malnutrition on fetal development.

International markets serve those with the greatest purchasing power. This makes market mechanisms alone inadequate from the perspective of those whose purchasing power to secure food for their families is eclipsed by other demands on food systems, including the demands that generate significant food waste, as well as the demand for feed and fuel. The U.S. government has intervened through both its agriculture and its social welfare programs for over 100 years in recognition of market failures that need correction.

Yet our administration’s trade policy ignores our domestic experience. For instance, while many in Congress are fighting to retain public funding levels for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) at home, you are seeking to undermine policy space for developing countries to fulfil their own food security objectives with far fewer resources than are available in the United States. Many of the poor in developing countries are often also small scale agricultural producers. Contrary to the letter sent to you by US commodity groups and agribusiness interests on October 24, we, the many US farm, faith-based and non-governmental organizations working on agriculture, food security, nutrition, health and economic justice acknowledge that the current agriculture rules in the WTO (including domestic support) are rigged to support big agribusiness. We do all countries a disservice when we promote only commercial export interests, ignoring the real political (and moral) imperative that governments are responsible for their citizens’ welfare, including their right to adequate and affordable food and fair prices to agriculture producers.

The G33 food security proposal is an important first step in the reframing of global trade rules to promote more equitable and stable markets, especially for countries that face huge food security challenges. The U.S. proposal for a “Peace Clause” to suspend potential challenges to those efforts at the WTO is an unfair and inadequate response to a sensible proposal to explore new options to improve stability in national and global markets. We support the G33 proposal and call on the U.S. government to do the same.

Sincerely, 

ActionAid USA

American Medical Student Association

Center for Food Safety

Center for Policy Analysis on Trade and Health (CPATH)

Family Farm Defenders

Farm Worker Association of Florida

Food Democracy Now!

Food First

Food & Water Watch

Friends of the Earth USA

Global Exchange

Global Health through Education Service and Training (GHETS)

Global to Local Advocates for Justice

Grassroots International

Health Alliance International

Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy

International Forum on Globalization

Illinois Fair Trade Coalition

Just Foreign Policy

 

Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns

Minnesota Fair Trade Coalition

National Family Farm Coalition

National Farmers Union

Next GenU

Oakland Institute

Oxfam America

PLANT

Pivot Point

Rainforest Action Network

Rebuild the Dream

Rural Coalition / Coalicion Rural

Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia

Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur

Texas Fair Trade Coalition

The Second Chance Foundation

Washington Fair Trade Coalition

Wisconsin Fair Trade Coalition

WhyHunger