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Administration States New Food and Agriculture Principles to Guide Farm Policy

Thursday, September 20, 2001

In a landmark report released by Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman yesterday, the Bush Administration gave its strongest signal to date that U.S. agriculture is not an isolated segment of the economy, but rather is driven by the same forces shaping the U.S. economy -- globalization; technological advancements and fundamental changes in the workforce and family structure. The report suggests that past farm polices designed for narrower purposes in an isolated economy simply cannot meet the current needs of our modern, rapidly expanding food and agricultural system.

The Bush Administration's report offers a set of principles to guide policy development for trade, a farm safety net, system infrastructure, conservation and environment, rural communities, nutrition and food assistance and program
delivery.

"This report clearly demonstrates the complexities of the agricultural economy and the need to view policy decisions in the largest context possible, not in the vacuum of special interests," said AMI President J. Patrick Boyle. "We hope that the spirit embodied in this report guides future policymaking in this administration and future administrations."

The following is a summary of the key principles:

  • Farm policy and programs must be tailored to reflect wide differences among farms with respect to production costs, marketing approaches, management capabilities and household goals.


  • Farm policy, including providing a safety net, must promote more sustainable prosperity for farmers through market orientation without engendering long-term dependence on government support. This does not
    rule out helping farmers and ranchers when unexpected events beyond their control occur and cause output or income to plummet.


  • Trade policy must focus on gaining access to foreign markets through tariff reduction and the elimination of trade distorting subsidies and be supported by domestic policy that meets our existing international obligations and provides ample latitude to pursue ambitious goals in trade negotiations.


  • Domestic farm policy must not inadvertently reduce competitiveness at the same time that trade policy seeks expanded export market opportunities for
    farmers.


  • The infrastructure that supports market growth and efficiency, which includes everything from border inspection services to research endeavors, must
    be renewed and reoriented to fit today's realities, with input and cooperation from every link in the food chain.


  • Conservation policy must pursue a portfolio of instruments, including land retirement and stewardship incentives on working farmland, to respond to
    Americans' growing expectations about agriculture's role in promoting and protecting environmental quality.


  • A strong commitment to ensuring the access of all Americans to a healthy and nutritious food supply must continue, with particular attention to improvements in the delivery of food assistance to low-income families.


  • Recognition of emerging diet quality issues is of paramount importance, as the nation's concern shifts from under-consumption and under-nutrition to that
    of the proper variety and quantities of foods and nutrients that promote health and well-being.


  • Rural America is diverse, and tailored policies must create conditions that will attract private investment, encourage the education of the rural labor
    force, and promote alternative uses of the natural resource base, including through development of renewable energy sources and carbon sequestration to
    reduce greenhouse gas emissions.


  • Systems must be integrated to assure coordinated and collaborative delivery of food and farm programs and to citizen access to public services.


For a complete copy of the report, go to www.usda.gov.


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