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Economy and Business

What do Ohio car parts have to do with the Farm Bill?
With a Farm Bill, Agriculture Secretary Vilsack warns of a trade war that could affect Ohio auto parts

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M.L. Schultze
Cotton subsidies could affect car-part exports
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The Obama administration is ratcheting up pressure to get a consolidated Farm Bill through Congress, and the argument includes car parts in Ohio.

LISTEN: Cotton, car parts, farmers and Brazil

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Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack’s arguments for a Farm Bill that includes both nutrition assistance and farm subsidies are pegged in large part on the stability of the nation’s agriculture and the need for children, elderly and working-poor people to have enough food to eat.

But he’s also holding up the specter of trade with Brazil, which went to the World Trade Organization with this argument.

“America’s cotton program placed Brazilian cotton growers at a disadvantage. The WTO agreed and basically gave the Brazilians the ability to retaliate by putting seriously high tariffs on a variety of products including automobile parts.  Obviously a lot of that is produced in the state of Ohio. If our parts become less competitive in the world market, then we’ll be able to export fewer of them, which obviously will result in jobs being impacted and affected.”

The U.S. has been holding Brazil at bay with payments of about $150 million a year. But the sequester is about to cut that in half. Both House and Senate versions of the Farm Bill address subsidies

But the bills are vastly different and neither will become law without a conference committee agreement. House Republican leaders have delayed appointing members of the conference committee until they vote on slashing  $40 billion for food stamps over 10 years. Neither House Speaker John Boehner nor Bob Gibbs, the Northeast Ohio congressman who sits on the House Agriculture Committee, could be reached for comment.

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