The World Trade Organization wants the United States to end its subsidies program for cotton growers affecting dozens of farmers in our area. Other countries say they just can't compete against the American cotton farmers because of the government's strong support.
As you can imagine, the farmers are strongly against any cuts to the subsidies, saying if the programs are eliminated the multi-billion dollar cotton industry could crumble, which would be devastating to both the local and national economy.
Tractors across south Georgia continue to cultivate the cotton crop throughout the growing season. Farmers say all this could come to an end if the World Trade Organization gets its way and U.S. subsidies are dropped.
Van Murphy, a cotton grower, says, "It could potentially close this place and you'd see farmers going out of business. You'd see all of south Georgia suffering because of that. We're an ag community. We're ag dependent. Our American people want a good, good quality product for a reasonable price, and the only way we can do that is if our government comes in and help subsidize and protect farmers and keep them in business."
Farmers remain hopeful the programs will remain in place despite the serious demand the world market is making.
Murphy adds, "I'm optimistic that our country and our representatives will realize that we've got to have these programs and that these programs are working."
Even though local cotton farmers are optimistic, they are still calling on local folks to call and write national leaders, requesting these programs and protections remain in place for American cotton farmers.
It could be a while until farmers will know for certain if the subsidies are gone or here to stay. The U.S. government is expected to fight the WTO on this issue, so it could take months or even years to resolve the conflict.