At the World Trade Organization meeting in Hong Kong, Washington wheat farmers are making a calculated bet by supporting a U.S. proposal to sharply cut the tens of millions of dollars in farm subsidies they now receive.

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At the World Trade Organization meeting in Hong Kong, Washington wheat farmers are making a calculated bet by supporting a U.S. proposal to sharply cut the tens of millions of dollars in farm subsidies they now receive.

If the WTO’s 149 members can agree on how to reduce trade-distorting agricultural subsidies, they can break a deadlock that for years has stymied progress on reducing global trade barriers. If not, the meeting is likely to break up with mutual recriminations, like two earlier sessions.

Once a WTO deal is done, the wheat industry aims to shift its U.S. subsidy dollars into other types of farm support that the WTO allows. And it hopes to see more free-flowing world trade, enabling export sales to increase.

The state’s wheat farmers sold about $325 million overseas last year. They also collected the lion’s share of the $194.8 million in federal farm support for the state.

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For growers of apples, cherries and other fruit, the WTO stakes are simpler: They’d like to see lower tariff barriers in other countries so that Washington products can be more competitive.

They get no federal money now, so there’s everything to gain and nothing to lose from a WTO agreement lowering agriculture subsidies.

Fruits are Washington state’s biggest agricultural commodity export, worth more than a half-billion dollars last year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.