>On two voice votes, the House Appropriations Committee passed amendments that would both punish the cotton program and cotton farmers AND violate the US-Brazil framework inviting retaliation against the US. Representatives Flake (R-AZ) and DeLauro (D-CT) offered amendments that together will pull more than $147Million from the cotton program direct payments and transfer it to the WIC program.
As the House and Senate begin work on a new farm bill, the measures, if finally passed, will damage both the farm bill and the agreement reached between Brazil and the US following a lengthy WTO process that ultimately found parts of the US Cotton Program and Export Credit program in violation of the WTO treaties. The US made several changes to the cotton program and agreed to make additional changes as the next farm bill was developed to bring the ag program back into compliance. In the mean time, the US agreed to fund an institute to the tune of just under $150Million. The Flake amendment would take the money to pay for the institute from the cotton program direct payments. Thus punishing cotton producers when MOST (80%) of the amount of the settlement was due to the Export Credit Guarantee program. The DeLauro amendment re-directs that money to the WIC program away from the Brazil institute which puts us in direct violation of the framework.
We had been aware of the possibility of Rep. Flake tabling an amendment to cut the payment to the Brazil institute and the cotton industry made comment to the members of the committee telling them that the while the Brazil agreement was called the “Cotton Case” it was the export credit program that drew the ire of the WTO establishing the amount of the violation. Cotton was very small part of the sanction. Nonetheless, our program has drawn the most fire over the case. A statement from the National Cotton Council is found on their website. We will be in contact with our members as the process moves and we do our best to restore the funding and stave off the retaliatory activity from Brazil that is sure to follow if the payments to the institute are not restored.