Topic: Globalization and the Problem of Agriculture
Dan Glickman: Agriculture is, frankly, one of the reasons why many of the developing nations of the world continue to kind of depend on handouts, because they do not have an agriculture infrastructure that allows them to be self sufficient in food production. And in the area of global trade, we really do not have very much free trade in agriculture, because it’s an interesting phenomenon. No matter how rich your country is, most farmers will want to protect what they have inside. This is true of America. It’s true of the UK. It’s true of Europe. It’s true of China. It’s true everywhere else. So agriculture is probably the reason why we cannot move very aggressively on a new global trade ground. The agricultural interests are pretty down on that.
Well I think in the area of agriculture, you know, what we as a nation have to do is to recognize vast areas of the world have subsistence agriculture, and our policies tend to hurt that because of the way we subsidize our products. I don’t want to make an overall statement because some are more in that area than others, and not every one of our programs is bad. But agriculture is unique. The politics of agriculture is unlike any in the rest of the world. You can be talking to the most liberal, progressive, politician in America, or Japan, or in Europe on anything else and you mention dairy, or cotton, or sugar, and it’s like they turn from Doctor Jekyll to Mr. Hyde. It’s just the way of the world and it’s probably always been that way. And part of it is the natural predilection to protect your farmers and your food supply.
Recorded on: 7/6/07