Brazil farmers want WTO fight

SAO PAULO, Brazil (Reuters) — Brazilian soybean farmers have asked their country to file a complaint against the United States at the World Trade Organization.

They allege that U.S. farm subsidies give an unfair advantage to the world’s top soybean producer.

Those subsidies might be costing Brazilian farmers $1 billion a year in lost business, said Endrigo Dalcin, president of the Aprosoja farm group’s local branch in Mato Grosso, the nation’s top soy-growing state.

“Data is being analyzed to see if it is viable for us to question this American protectionism,” Dalcin said.

Aprosoja has hired lawyers from Chicago-based law firm Sidley Austin LLC in Geneva, where the WTO is based, he added.

A spokesperson at Brazil’s foreign ministry confirmed the farmers had made the request but warned several ministries needed to review the proposal and that the government would take at least a month to make a decision.

If opened, a WTO dispute could strain relations between the Western Hemisphere’s two largest countries after they grew closer last year.

Soybean farmers are following Brazilian cotton producers, who won $300 million in compensation from the U.S. in 2014 to settle a decade-old trade dispute over subsidies.

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