The CQ Weekly cover story on US cotton policy and the US cotton industry is steeped in error, surprising bias, and fallacy. The author used every tried and true tactic to distort the picture -- from sentence structure to carefully missing facts.
The Brazil WTO case was based on US farm policy enacted in already-expired farm laws. The US is already on a different page. US cotton acreage and production have dramatically declined over the past five years due to cotton support changes, Chinese market distortions, and mandated corn ethanol demand. The vast cotton fields of Mississippi have been largely replaced by vast corn fields.
The author's attempt to link modern cotton with slavery is embarrassing to read and amazingly purposeful. The CQ has retreated from an informational journal to a sensationalist approach to federal policy discussion.
From wrong-headed facts (overstating average subsidies involved in the Brazil case by $1.5 billion per year), to callous disregard of facts and history (600,000 textile jobs in the US lost since 2000 as a result of competition by child-labor-produced apparel products), to complete fabrication (West African cotton producers are not, and have never been, a competitive threat to US cotton producers), to deliberate misstatement of facts (of the $829 million Brazil is authorized to retaliate, only $147 million is due to cotton subsidies), the author and the publisher have written an article designed to distort the policy debate with respect to cotton. Of all the professed cotton experts who have written on the Brazil WTO case, only the CQ believes a one hectare West African cotton farm is competitively identical to a 10,000 acre Brazilian plantation -- an assertion that is ludicrous on its face.
When Congress, the Administration, and the US cotton industry begin to consider new farm policy in the light of the next farm bill, we are confident that debate will not lose sight of the importance of agriculture to America and the importance of cotton to agriculture in the United States. Hopefully, by that time, the Congressional Quarterly's hatchet job on a huge portion of rural America will just be white noise, indistinguishable from a string of one-sided, biased attacks on farm programs.