by Stephanie Nolen. Globe and Mail. February 13, 2008.
In the United States, the world's largest cotton producer, farmers receive between $2-billion and $3-billion (U.S.) a year in subsidies, as Mr. Diarra said, both money to produce and money to compensate for the price. It's a huge incentive to produce, and thus U.S. farmers flood the global market with cotton, driving down the price about 14 per cent below where it would otherwise be. The subsidies are paid out to about 12,000 large-scale growers in the southern states, but far off in Mali, the ninth-poorest country in the world, their impact is enormous.
"Subsidies are a catastrophe for us," said Zakariyaou Diawara, who heads the union of Mali's cotton farmers. "Our cotton is of better quality; it's the subsidies that crush us."
Why are U.S. taxpayers subsidizing U.S. cotton growers in ways that harm the poor in Mali?