EU asks PM Modi: How will you double farmers’ income? 

India and United States are being probed by World Trade Organisation members over their plans to support farmer incomes

A representative image
A representative image

NH Web Desk

India and United States are being probed by World Trade Organisation members over their farmer support plans. The questions submitted to the WTO's quarterly agriculture committee meeting showed on Monday, reported Reuters.

World Trade Organisation has strict rules about size and nature of payments, and member governments keep a close watch for any competitors who might be cheating.

United States President Donald Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi have both made boosting farm incomes a priority. Trump is trying to offset domestic damage from a tariff war with China; PM Modi faces a slowdown in India's agriculture-dominated economy.

According to report in Reuters, The European Union asked India to explain how PM Modi proposed to spend ₹25 trillion ($357.5 billion) on agriculture and rural development, doubling income of farmers by 2022 as part of a 100 trillion-rupee, 5 year infrastructure splurge.

"How will this be done, taking into account global market prices of produce and measures put in place to prevent excess production?" the EU asked.

United States queried India's 5 per cent export subsidy for non-Basmati rice and its growing state buying of wheat at rising prices, despite back-to-back record harvests, noting that it was on track for a record wheat stockpile.

The United States and Australia also wanted details of India's new "transport and marketing assistance" for agriculture, which Australia said was an export subsidy that should be phased out.

Australia, Canada, China, the EU, India, New Zealand and Ukraine raised questioned about Trump's $16 billion "market facilitation package"

China said the package appeared likely to breach the allowed "product specific" ceiling of 5% of the value of production.

The EU also queried a $19 billion disaster bill approved by Congress this month, saying it would let the U.S. Department of Agriculture boost "the prevented planting payment factor on crop insurance to 90% instead of 55% for corn and 60% for soybeans".

India criticised the U.S. 2018 Farm Bill, saying it benefited not only farmers, but also their first cousins, nieces and nephews, with children and spouses qualifying for $125,000 of payments.

Among other questions, Canada and Australia asked about the impact of Brexit, and the United States was concerned Pakistan's wheat subsidies were creating "huge surpluses" and said China appeared to be exporting state-owned rice below cost.

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