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Brazil WTO case behind changes in cotton policyBrazil WTO case behind changes in cotton policy

World Trade Organization dispute brought by Brazil made cotton a target in farm bill debates.

Ron Smith 1

April 14, 2015

2 Min Read
<p>GARY ADAMS, right, shares the podium with PCG President Shawn Holladay at the recent PCG annual meeting in Lubbock.</p>

The bus many in the cotton industry believe they were thrown under in the Agriculture Act of 2014 was not driven by the National Cotton Council, various state or regional cotton organizations or even the Senate and House Agriculture Committees.

It was Brazil behind the wheel.

Budget constraints also played a role, said Gary Adams, National Cotton Council president and CEO.

Adams, in answer to a question following his presentation to the Plains Cotton Growers annual meeting last week, said the decade-long World Trade Organization dispute brought by Brazil made cotton a target in farm bill debates.

“Brazil won the dispute on several points,” Adams explained to the questioner who was asking how to justify the loss of covered commodity status to gin customers.

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Price protection, Adams said, was a key target in the cotton program and one where Brazil prevailed before the WTO. With the victory, Brazil was given retaliatory options that would have involved products other than cotton and other than agriculture. Intellectual property rights would have been on the table as well as pharmaceuticals and products from other key U.S. industries.

“That brought more attention to the farm bill debate and more entities, including the Chamber of Commerce.”

Direct payments and crop insurance were not on the list of transgressions Brazil sought to eliminate, Adams said.

“But direct payments were off the table because of budget issues. So we had to look at insurance options and developed STAX. We maintained the marketing loan with some adjustments. “Without some resolution between the United States and Brazil and with many other interests at the table, we could have lost even more,” Adams said.

“We knew it was unpopular, especially in light of where prices are now. The Council will continue to work to improve the safety net. Some areas have not been implemented in the way they were intended.

“We also need to look at issues related to production costs.”

About the Author(s)

Ron Smith 1

Senior Content Director, Farm Press/Farm Progress

Ron Smith has spent more than 40 years covering Sunbelt agriculture. Ron began his career in agricultural journalism as an Experiment Station and Extension editor at Clemson University, where he earned a Masters Degree in English in 1975. He served as associate editor for Southeast Farm Press from 1978 through 1989. In 1990, Smith helped launch Southern Turf Management Magazine and served as editor. He also helped launch two other regional Turf and Landscape publications and launched and edited Florida Grove and Vegetable Management for the Farm Press Group. Within two years of launch, the turf magazines were well-respected, award-winning publications. Ron has received numerous awards for writing and photography in both agriculture and landscape journalism. He is past president of The Turf and Ornamental Communicators Association and was chosen as the first media representative to the University of Georgia College of Agriculture Advisory Board. He was named Communicator of the Year for the Metropolitan Atlanta Agricultural Communicators Association. More recently, he was awarded the Norman Borlaug Lifetime Achievement Award by the Texas Plant Protection Association. Smith also worked in public relations, specializing in media relations for agricultural companies. Ron lives with his wife Pat in Johnson City, Tenn. They have two grown children, Stacey and Nick, and three grandsons, Aaron, Hunter and Walker.

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