Georgia peanut farmers are expecting the pending farm bill in Congress to force radical change on them, but GATT is likely to bring on even more far-reaching changes.
The World Trade Organization (WTO) has guidelines that may force peanut growers in Georgia into value-added services in order to compete globally in the future, according to an Indian journalist who is an expert on world peanut markets.
B.K. Sudhakar Reddy, the Hyderabad bureau chief of the Indian newspaper The Economic Times, said that GATT, which established the WTO, requires lower price supports for American growers, forcing them to consider additional services like processing to remain profitable. India and China are the world’s leading peanut producing countries, each harvesting roughly three times the U.S. crop.
Don Shurley, an agricultural economist at The University of Georgia’s Cooperative Extension Service in Tifton, said however that the main effect of GATT will be to remove the “closed borders” on foreign peanuts in the U.S. The amount of foreign peanuts will gradually be raised as tariffs are reduced. Price competitiveness will be more important than price supports in determining international market share, he said.
Georgia peanuts account for about one-half of total U.S. production, one-third of which is exported, Dr. Shurley said. The European Union takes in about two-thirds of U.S. exports.
Mr. Reddy came to Atlanta in June as a member of an international delegation for a United States Information Agency-sponsored program to introduce the group to U.S. trade policies. The Georgia Council for International Visitors was the local host.
For more information, Dr. Shurley may be reached by calling (912) 386-3512; fax (912) 386-3440.