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Rep. Ron Kind Calls on Congress to Fix Broken Cotton Subsidy Programs

May 3, 2018
Press Release

Rep. Ron Kind Calls on Congress to Fix Broken Cotton Subsidy Programs

Comes after Brazil’s Agriculture Minister states intent to challenge U.S. over new cotton subsidies

La Crosse, WI – Today, U.S. Rep. Ron Kind harshly criticized Congress for passing a subsidy reform program in the 2018 budget that may spark another trade dispute with Brazil.  This comes after Brazil’s Agriculture Minister, Blairo Maggi, told reporters he is preparing to challenge the United States again at the World Trade Organization over new subsidies for U.S. cotton farmers included in Congress's 2018 budget package. According to Min. Maggi, the subsidy program from 2018 is comparable to the now defunct cotton subsidy program that spurred a costly trade dispute.

“It's unbelievable that some in Congress want to recreate a program, inspired by a terrible policy from a decade ago, that proved to be a total waste of taxpayer dollars. Didn't we learn our lesson when American taxpayers were forced to pay $300 million to cotton farmers in Brazil?” said Rep. Ron Kind. "Spending millions upon millions of taxpayer dollars to subsidize Brazil’s cotton industry – only because of our refusal to appropriately reform our own cotton subsidy program - is shameful, and a total waste of hard-working Wisconsinites’ money. We need to stop this nonsense before hardworking Wisconsin workers, farmers and families are forced to foot the bill for Congress's mistake - again."

In 2003 and 2005, Brazil successfully argued before the WTO that U.S. agriculture subsidies to cotton producers in the Farm Bill violated WTO agreements. Following the WTO’s ruling, instead of reforming the cotton program when facing retaliatory tariffs and sanctions from Brazil, Congress and the Administration agreed to pay the Brazilian cotton industry over a quarter billion dollars – the amount determined as the losses Brazilians incur as a result of U.S. cotton subsidies.

Rep. Kind has routinely spoken out against the multi-million dollar payments to Brazilian agribusiness. He has also put pressure on the House and Senate Agriculture Committees to make the necessary reforms for future subsidy programs to be WTO compliant, in order to make sure American goods, services and Intellectual Property are not subject to future trade retaliation.