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AJWS leads coalition to aid small farmers

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The American Jewish World Service is calling on the U.S. Trade Representative to take measures that would aid small farmers in developing countries.

In a symbolic gesture, AJWS and 13 other other faith-based humanitarian organizations, delivered more than 100 bags of rice Nov. 25 to the U.S. Trade Representative.

Members demanded that U.S. trade negotiators support the creation of a special safeguard mechanism for food staples, such as rice and corn, at the World Trade Organization Ministerial this week in Geneva. The mechanism would allow farmers in developing nations to raise tariffs to offset financially burdensome import taxes.

The coalition made its demand in support of the G-33, a group of 46 developing nations pushing for certain farm goods to be classified as "Special Products" and thus become exempt from tariff cuts.

AJWS President Ruth Messinger called the special safeguard mechanism “a moral issue.”

"A safeguard mechanism is needed so that vulnerable populations do not find themselves at the mercy of the volatile market forces that caused the 2008 food crisis," she said. "This is a moral issue, not a political one: Trade rules should not hinder the ability of developing nations to provide food for their people."

The other groups in the coalition include Church World Service, Mennonite Central Committee U.S. Washington Office and NETWORK: A Catholic Social Justice Lobby.

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