What's Next For U.S. Ag?

Published online: Apr 13, 2000
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Jim Jesernig, director of the Washington State Department of Agriculture, said unless the U.S. government makes a commitment to its agriculture industry, criticism of the "Freedom to Farm Act" will be accurate and remembered as the piece of legislation that, in fact, was the "Freedom to Go Bankrupt Act."

In a special guest editorial in the Washington State Potato Commission's Spud Topics newsletter, Jesernig said the underlying promise of the Freedom to Farm Act was that our producers would have a "level playing field" in international trade.

"My chief disappointment with the "Battle in Seattle," wasn't the protests or lack of agenda, it was the realization that the U.S. cannot make good on that promise. We must be willing to take a much more aggressive posture with our trading partners."

Jesernig said that as of 1996, the European Union accounted for 83 percent of world ag export subsidies while the U.S. accounted for 1.4 percent. U.S. producers face average tariffs of over 50 percent when selling overseas. On the other hand, imports face tariffs of less than 10 percent.

"Why did WTO fail? Bluntly put, we do not have both parties willing to negotiate."