DEPUTY DIRECTOR-GENERAL ANABEL GONZÁLEZ
“The report's findings are a potential step change, not only in how we think about agricultural support policies, but also in how we think about opportunities for trade cooperation to enable the transformation of agri-food systems,” she said.
DDG González noted that the WTO agriculture rulebook is itself structured to encourage a transition from production- or trade-distorting support to non-trade-distorting support. She added that some WTO members have taken steps in this direction by moving towards environmental programmes and other forms of non-trade-distorting agricultural support. Still, a lot of taxpayer money is invested in agriculture with limited returns for farmers, the environment and the economy, she said.
DDG González emphasized the importance of taking a coherent approach to ensure that the entire range of agricultural trade policies deliver benefits for food security, livelihoods and sustainability. She added that ongoing work at the WTO provides opportunities to make this happen and to harness digitalization, foster investments and facilitate access to green technologies in agri-food markets. The challenges are huge, and it is only by working together that we will be able to bring about the reforms needed for better outcomes on agricultural trade, she said.
A new IFPRI-World Bank study, Repurposing Agricultural Policies and Support: Options to Transform Agriculture and Food Systems to Better Serve the Health of People, Economies, and the Planet, finds that repurposing a portion of government spending on agriculture each year to develop and disseminate more emission-efficient technologies for crops and livestock would have large economic payoffs, could reduce overall emissions from agriculture by more than 40 per cent, and restore millions of hectares of land to natural habitats.