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Week of 3.9.07

A Growing Hunger

There are roughly 30,000 cotton-growers in America who receive billions of our U.S. tax dollars every year through government subsidies. But critics charge this generous financial support may be ruining the livelihoods of tens of millions of cotton growers in the poorest parts of the world.

This week NOW travels to the West African country of Burkina Faso, where cotton is a key crop, to see the global consequences of our subsidies. Thahiru Konate, a local farmer in Burkina Faso, tells us that despite the high quality cotton his country produces, prices continue to fall each year. "With these low prices it's as if we're giving our cotton away."

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Ray Offenheiser, president of the anti-poverty organization Oxfam America told NOW, "There is a direct association between these subsidies and the hunger in Africa and the plight of African farmers."

NOW also looks at a new farm proposal -- supported by President Bush -- which seeks to rein in assistance to American farmers. But a confrontation in Congress over the proposed subsidy cuts is brewing. Minnesota Congressman Collin Peterson, Chair of the House Committee on Agriculture, says we "should produce our food and our fiber in the U.S. and not become dependent on foreign countries."

Are we paying a terrible global price for subsidizing U.S. cotton farmers?

Points of View:

Oxfam: For Farmers, Families, and Our Future: Reform the 2007 Farm Bill

National Cotton Council: "Cotton Session Undermines WTO Process, Is Unfair to U.S. Cotton Farmers"

Related Links:

U.S. Department of Agriculture: 2007 Farm Bill Proposals