The US' trade policies are anything but "benign," even when comparatively speaking. They are less severe than the EU's, but they are far from "benign," and their malignancy was only made worse with the passage of the Farm Bill in 2002. They affect countries all over the world, including those in Africa.
The US exports corn at prices 22% below production cost, and wheat at 46% below. Through NAFTA, the dumping of these artificially priced commodities in Mexico have directly affected the small corn producers there, putting many of them out of business. This has lead directly to the undermining of local rural economies and an increase in Mexican immigration to the US.
The US' subsidized citrus industry is currently battering at Brazil's closed markets to gain an access to dump their artificially priced citrus commodities onto the Brazilian market.
The IMF blew open Haiti's closed rice markets in the mid 1990's, opening the country to the US rice industry's subsidized exports. This crippled local production, and maligned the rural populations there. Haiti used to be self-sufficient in rice production. It now imports most of it from the US.
West African cotton exporters lost around $250 million a year due to US cotton subsidies. That was before the passage of the Farm Bill in 2002.
Among other things, the Farm Bill:
- Fixed payments totaling $5 billion annually for 10 years to all grain, cotton and soybean farmers based on historical production. Farmers are allowed to update the production records on which the payments are based.
- Provides for additional subsidies for the same farmers based on fluctuations in market prices for commodities. Farmers would be eligible for two separate payments on each crop.
- Created a new subsidy for peanuts, replacing an existing quota program, and payments are restored for honey, wool and mohair. Price supports for sugar and milk are continued.
- Created the Conservation Reserve Program, which pays farmers to idle environmentally sensitive land, would be expanded from 34 million to nearly 40 million acres. A new program would protect up to 2 million acres of grasslands.
- Created the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, which subsidizes the cost of manure control and other conservation projects, would receive nearly $1.3 billion a year, up from $174 million. Producers could qualify for up to $50,000 per year, up from $10,000.
Created a program that underwrites the cost of advertising U.S. food products overseas would more than double to $200 million annually.