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Global polls shows subsidy support

DANIEL LOOKER 03/01/2011 @ 8:45am Business Editor

A strong majority of farmers around the globe back continued subsidies for agriculture, according to a poll conducted by the British publication, Farmers Weekly, with cooperation from Successful Farming magazine’s website, Agriculture.com.

  Farmers from the United Kingdom, U.S, Canada, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand were asked, “What is the best purpose for agricultural subsidies?”

  A majority, 52.6%, say they protect national and regional food supplies. Another 12% say they stabilize prices. Nearly as many, 11.5%, say they protect the environment. But 24% say subsidies serve no purpose and should be scrapped. 

  “We have support out of necessity, not desire,” president of the English National Farmers Union (NFU), Peter Kendall tells British writer, Tom Allen-Stevens. “We live in a world where global markets are distorted, where Russia closes its doors to wheat trade, and the U.S. supports its corn farmers. If we didn’t have an agricultural policy in the EU, we would become the world’s dumping ground for surpluses.”

  But according to Lachlan McKenzie, chairman of the Federated Farmers of New Zealand dairy section, EU ag policies distort markets the world over. “If you want to pay your farmers to keep your grass clipped and your hedges trimmed, fine. But when our markets are distorted through subsidy, it hurts our economy hugely and that of third world subsistence economies even more.”

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