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Scrap EU farm subsidies to help poor, Niebel demands

The Local · 22 Sep 2010, 08:55

Published: 22 Sep 2010 08:55 GMT+02:00

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As debates simmers over Germany’s – and the rest of the developed world’s – contributions to aid in the Third World, Niebel has sought to shift the focus to how free trade can be used as a weapon against poverty and hunger.

The European Union’s agriculture export subsidies should be “finally abolished,” Niebel said.

“We have to strengthen our markets for products from developing nations and open the door for improved import possibilities,” he told Wednesday’s edition of the daily Schweriner Volkszeitung.

Agriculture in rural areas of the developing world had to be more strongly supported and promoted, he added.

“The situation is as drastic as ever. It’s not good news when nearly a billion people are suffering from hunger,” he said.

The EU spends about 40 percent of its budget, or nearly €50 billion per year, on subsidising its farmers. This allows them to sell their produce more cheaply, keeping down prices for European consumers, but also harming competitors abroad, notably farmers in developing countries where similar subsidies are not paid.

Niebel’s comments came as Chancellor Angela Merkel told a United Nations summit on the Millennium Development Goals that improved governance in poor countries was needed to ensure the countries could eventually look after themselves rather than relying on aid forever.

"Development aid cannot continue indefinitely,” she said. “The task therefore is to use limited resources as effectively as possible. This can only work through good governance which taps that country's potential.

Story continues below…

"Without self-sustaining economic growth, developing countries will find the road out of poverty and hunger to steep to climb."

DAPD/The Local/dw

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

09:13 September 22, 2010 by catjones
Wake me when this happens.
11:47 September 22, 2010 by Aschaffenburgboy
I see this issue as a matter of having fresh food available. If we start importing produce from nations that are too far away, how fresh will that tomato really be by the time it gets to you? Free trade agreements shouldn't have anything to do with farming, IMHO. If 40 million people are suffering from hunger, it is not due to the fact that we, here in Germany, have access to affordable produce, but due to the fact that our economy has developed far enough to allow for this to happen. What is next, we will be forced to buy Kraut from Pakistan at double the price? This is how the problem will be fixed?
13:02 September 22, 2010 by William Thirteen
actually the price is already doubled - first i have to pay the farmer a subsidy with my taxes, then i actually have to pay for the product. I would like to see this broken out by product type actually. There may be some local farmers i would prefer supporting and others that should find a new line of work....
14:05 September 22, 2010 by freechoice
Usually food producers who can sell cheaply to consumers at ALDI and LIDL are those mass production plants owned by major corporations, poor farmers should deal with bio products, which enjoys alot of support even at higher price and premium supermarkets. The choices are fresh produce are limited if you don't encourage free trade between nations, you guys are missing alot of new varieties of vegetables that can be found in East Asia. Any products from anywhere could reach anywhere in the world within 24 hours thanks to aviation cargo!!
09:56 September 23, 2010 by Aschaffenburgboy
@William - yes you are correct about the payment scheme, but it is still more affordable and fresh. And these are our farmers you are paying to, why pay some other farmer 3 or 5 thousand miles away? ////@freechoice - to get a variety of tomatoes that we don't get here? From china? No Thank you.

Besides, we already have many different choices and niche supermarkets that carry exotic foods and foreign produce. Even in Aschaffenburg, which is not such a big city, you can find Turkish and Thai markets. In frankfurt you have African and Caribbean ones as well. I buy Casava and Plantains among other things that are not seen in Rewe, Aldi, or Real.

The grass is not always greener on the other side of the fence. Don't mess with my food supply.
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