Agricultural Subsidies: Ethical Issues
For nearly a century, governments around the world have been supporting their agricultural sectors to a degree that has few sectoral parallels. The preferred mechanism has been a subsidy, be it to bolster output prices, lessen input costs, take land out of production, or simply supplement incomes. More recently, however, agricultural subsidies have come under attack at world trade meetings, and even within poverty-focused civil society organizations, based on arguments that invoke or at least imply ethics. Subsidies in the developed world, and especially in Europe, the United States, and Canada, distort market signals and stunt growth in the developing world by flooding markets with underpriced goods, thereby undercutting efforts by farmers in the south to sell their own produce. These subsidies, which in 2016 for all OECD countries totaled US$228 billion (OECD 2017...
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