WASHINGTON, Sept. 30, 2015 - The International Food and Agricultural Trade Policy Council (IPC), which made far-reaching contributions to help spur development of the global trading system for food and agricultural products for more than 28 years, is going out of business effective today, September 30.

The decision to close was based on “insufficient funding as interest in multilateral trade negotiations and discussion of trade policy options have waned over recent years,” said President and CEO Ellen Terpstra, a former administrator of USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service.

Founded in Oxford, England, in 1987 principally by scholars and former trade negotiators from the United States, the European Union, Canada and New Zealand, “IPC has influenced the global discussion of the critical role food and agricultural trade plays in food security and economic development,” said IPC Chair J.B. Penn, chief economist at Deere & Co. in Washington.

Through the years, IPC produced influential papers and sponsored seminars that prodded negotiators to reach for multilateral and regional trade agreements to reduce tariffs and break down other barriers such as import restrictions disguised as sanitary or quality standards. In its early years, IPC played an important role in developing recommendations for the Uruguay Round negotiations within the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), which achieved substantial trade liberalization of agriculture for the first time.

The council began with financial support from the Rockefeller Foundation. Among founding members were its first chairman, Lord Henry Plumb, former president of the National Farmers Union of England and Wales and later president of the European Parliament, and the late Dale E. Hathaway, under secretary of agriculture for international affairs and commodity programs in the Carter Administration, who helped negotiate the Tokyo Round agreement in the late 1970s.

Former agriculture and trade ministers from EU countries were among early leaders. Subsequent members included Michel Petit, a French academic who was World Bank director of agriculture and rural development; Timothy Josling of Stanford University and Imperial College, London; and Stefan Tangermann of the University of Göttingen, Germany, and later director for trade and agriculture at the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Noted U.S. members of IPC included Robert L. Thompson, former Purdue agriculture dean who chaired the council in 2001-06; former Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman; Robbin Johnson, a Cargill senior vice president; Ann Tutwiler, later deputy director general of FAO and now director general of Bioversity International in Rome; Tom Urban, former head of Pioneer International; James Starkey, senior vice president of Universal Leaf Tobacco and former assistant U.S. trade representative; Carl Hausmann, former CEO of Bunge North America, and Jason Clay, senior vice president of the World Wildlife Fund.

IPC position papers and recommendations through the years will remain available “for the foreseeable future” on the council’s web site, Terpstra said. Her plans: “Helping out with the grandkids, mostly!” she said in an email to Agri-Pulse.


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