By Jennifer Stultz Editor
WASHINGTON, DC – Earlier today, 26 members of the United States House of Representatives signed a letter led by Rice and Wheat State members Rick Crawford (R-AR) and Tracey Mann (R-KS ) to U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack expressing support for a World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute settlement case against India’s domestic supports for rice production and wheat. “Ensuring that all parties cooperate under the same guidelines is essential for international trade. The Indian government subsidizes more than half the value of wheat and rice production while World Trade Organization (WTO) rules only allow 10%, putting US commodity producers at a distinct disadvantage Mann said. “It is our duty as members of Congress to protect American producers.”
The appeal to the Biden administration parallels the effort undertaken in the Senate. Last month, 18 US senators sent a similar letter (see USA Rice Daily, December 16, 2021) to Tai and Vilsack.
“This significant show of bicameral support for the administration to take action against India at the WTO took years to prepare,” said Betsy Ward, President and CEO of USA Rice. “If left unchecked, India’s export market will continue to grow at an uncontrollable rate and threaten the viability of rice and wheat farmers across the world.”
Ward added: “Something is seriously wrong if Indian rice, produced on the other side of the world, can be transported hundreds of miles from inland to Indian ports, with gas prices to match at about $1.50 a gallon more than ours, then shipped over 7,000 nautical miles by ship to the United States, and still manages to undercut our domestic prices.
The letter states: “Trade-distorting domestic support has always been a major challenge for farmers, and WTO rules were created to limit these practices. Overall the system has been successful, but there are repeat offenders, such as China and India, where enforcement is needed. Your teams have constantly pressed India at the WTO to reform its price support program, but to no avail.
The letter went on to say, “Given India’s activity, we encourage you to initiate the WTO legal process through a request for consultations.”■