July 27, 2022

Representatives send letter to President to hold India accountable regarding rice and wheat

Representatives send letter to President to hold India accountable regarding rice and wheat

By: Sydney Sheffield

United States Representative Tracey Mann (R-KS) and Representative Rick Crawford (R-AR), along with 12 members of Congress, have sent a letter to President Joe Biden, urging him to hold India accountable for violating their commitments to the World Trade Organization (WTO). Current WTO rules allow governments to subsidize up to 10% of the value of commodity production, however, the Indian government continues to do so at more than half of the value of production for several commodities, including rice and wheat.

“India’s practices are dangerously trade-distorting on a global scale and impact U.S. farmers and ranchers,” the Members said in the letter. “We urge the Administration to file a formal request for consultations with India at the WTO and to continue monitoring other WTO member’s domestic support programs that undermine fair trade practices. America must not yield for the sake of reaching consensus. Instead, America must work to promote solutions that will alleviate the global supply chain and food shortages, and America must take actions that will address those consumers most impacted by inflation and rising food prices.”

The letter notes at the recently held WTO’s 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12), a group of developing WTO members led by India proposed an unlimited allowance of trade-distorting price supports tied to public stockholding and subsidies. “The proposal disregards WTO rules on agricultural domestic support partly put in place to ensure fairness of and confidence in the world’s farmers and instead benefits only a few countries. We share the agricultural industry’s concerns that if this proposal goes into effect, it could disproportionally disadvantage American producers who are already struggling.”

In January, Crawford and Mann also led their colleagues in a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack urging them to hold India accountable under the WTO rules, particularly regarding wheat and rice production. The most recent letter to the President did applaud Tai and her peers for rejecting India’s calls for a permanent, unlimited expansion of these limits and a subsidy exemption for commodities sold from government to government at MC12.

America was joined by the governments of Australia, Canada, Japan, Paraguay, Thailand, and Uruguay in initiating transparency. All the governments have expressed concerns regarding the impacts of the Indian government’s public stockholding programs for rice, wheat, and other commodities on global agricultural markets and seek to receive additional information from India.

Read the full letter here.