The plan puts the burden on rich countries, like the United States, to cut farm tariffs and eliminate domestic farm subsidies. The future of the plan is unclear because it asks little in return from poor countries. But negotiators are hopeful such overtures will restart talks that last autumn were stalled over bitter disagreements on farm trade.
A group of developing nations calling themselves the G-20 is calling upon wealthier countries to reduce tariffs and eliminate other barriers to markets for agricultural products. The G-20 was formed prior to last year's talks in Cancun. While its membership has fluctuated slightly, it includes Argentina, Mexico and China. Brazil and India are key leaders of the trading bloc.
In addition to tariffs, farm subsidies are key sticking points in the negotiations. European officials claim they're willing to curtail their farm subsidy programs if similar concessions are made by the U.S.
With nearly all of the major grain and livestock markets trading at profitable levels, an end to government subsidies could have little initial impact for U.S. producers. Nevertheless, farmers in the U.S., Europe and Japan have fought most attempts to cut the estimated $300 billion they receive in annual government support.