Bush: US Will Drop Farm Subsidies if EU Does Same

I’ll drop farming subsidies if EU does the same, says Bush (Times of London)

PRESIDENT BUSH yesterday challenged EU leaders to scrap massive subsidies paid to their farmers, saying free trade with Africa would eliminate the need for Third World aid. Mr Bush, on the eve of the G8 summit in Gleneagles, said that Europe paid “tremendous†agricultural subsidies, and that the US was ready to drop its own payouts to American farmers if Europe had the courage to do the same.

Mr Bush’s challenge — in an interview with Sir Trevor McDonald to be screened by ITV tonight — is likely to be rejected not only by France and Germany, but by many in his own country. But it appeared to be a bold rhetorical step by his Administration to get the world’s richest nations away from talk of aid and toward free-market solutions in the quest to alleviate poverty in Africa.

Asked directly if America would drop its subsidy system if the EU abandoned the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), Mr Bush said: “Absolutely. And I think we have an obligation to work together to do that. “Because if we do achieve this business of free trade, and if markets in the West are opened up to countries in Africa, they could be so successful, they could eliminate the need for aid. The benefits that have come from opening up markets — our markets to them and their markets to us — far outweigh the benefits of aid.â€

Mr Bush’s call to scrap agricultural subsidies in the developed world follows that of Tony Blair, who recently said the system of over-generous subsidies was “hypocrisy†that could no longer be ignored.

A bold rhetorical gesture, although ultimately an empty one. The president knows the EU, especially France, will never lift their subsidies. Further, even if they did, the U.S. Congress will not abolish them entirely, as too many congressional districts and states are heavily dependent on agriculture.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. nadezhda says:

    Hate to be a cynic, but this isn’t a bold rhetorical gesture — it’s not just an empty one, it’s quite bogus. IIRC, mutual disarmament on agriculture was the Administration’s rhetoric to justify the big Ag subsidy bill — the one enacted right before the world trade pow-wow in Mexico that helped to blow up the meetings there. If the Admin were at all serious, the US would be taking the lead on at least a few sectors and joining the Ag trade countries to beat up on the EU. Instead, the US continues to use the CAP to justify not only maintaining but increasing its own subsidy programs. Sigh.