While that may very well be the case, a bit more information is required.
These sessions are organized by two cabinet-level agencies in the US
government. One is the USDA, and the other is the Office of the US Trade
Representative, who is Charlene Barshevsky. The official reason why these are
being held is that the USTR and the USDA want to gather information pertinent
to the negotiations being held and to be held that cover those US products
which now or will suffer export difficulties.
At the time of the announcement, May 4, I believe the hormone-beef ban had
yet to be dealt with by WTO ( and still the issue is not fully resolved). I
suppose that this indicates that the main topic that will be spoken to is GMO
crops. These sessions will be part education from the government and part
testimony from the public. Some of those who undoubtedly will be there are
folks who are connected to GMO technology or mainstream agriculture, and they
may be expected to insist that the US continue to do everything it can to
assure overseas market entry for the new crops....and perhaps underscore
industry's aversion to labeling or moratoriums domestically.
You will note below that first one must contact an official within the State
Department of Agriculture of the state where the meeting is being held.
Judging from the press release, these meetings seem to be slanted towards
official industry and perhaps State government representatives who are
dealing with the controvery and its somewhat catastrophic aftermath.
Towards the end of May, and in the middle of work's hurricane, I suddenly
realized that the notice of these meetings had slipped into the ether. Now,
after an original post called " Winter Haven Project", I can see that I too
was short on information and long on vigor, and after a few queries from
interested folks, I did a bit of tardy homework.
It would be difficult to characterize what these meetings mean beforehand,
but I can see that they may be part PR initiative. Access is somewhat
difficult, publicity limited ( except a few somewhat confusing blasts), and
the importance of the meetings and what the results will be are vague.
Foreordained permission to embargo more cheese? Honest attempt to gauge
public opinion and learn? The "listening sessions" are advertised as a
preamble to the Seattle WTO Ministerial meetings this fall. Do note that if
you don't attend, you may send comments to the USDA Foreign Agricultural
Service DC by 26 July.
I admit I have been planting green beans, not fixing small engines ( anything
with one piston is rocket science) and observing a new llama all weekend, so
I have yet to call the Minnesota Dept. of Agriculture and see if they will
allow someone with a Texas address who really lives everywhere to speak in
However, I am going to St. Paul, will learn more beforehand, and I am going
to watch for any press coverage of the Winter Haven event to see what happens
best regards, and regrets for jumping the gun, Steve Sprinkel
USDA, USTR TO SPONSOR PUBLIC LISTENING SESSIONS ON WTO NEGOTIATIONS
Release No. 0193.99
Tom Amontree (202) 720-4623
Eric VanChantfort (202) 720-9443
USDA, USTR TO SPONSOR PUBLIC LISTENING SESSIONS ON WTO NEGOTIATIONS
Washington, May 4, 1999 Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman and U.S.
Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky today announced that the U.S.
Department of Agriculture and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative
(USTR) will hold 11 public listening sessions to solicit public comments on
agricultural trade priorities for the upcoming World Trade Organization (WTO)
"Because trade is so vital to American agriculture, the Administration
is seeking a broad range of advice and ideas to help form U.S. agricultural
trade policy in preparation for the next round of the WTO negotiations," said
Glickman. "The advice of farmers and ranchers, processors, exporters, and
consumers will be critical in establishing U.S. agricultural trade objectives
and goals for the upcoming Seattle Ministerial Meeting in late November and
for the ensuing WTO negotiations."
Glickman said the public listening sessions are especially important as
the United States continues the agricultural trade reform process into the
next century. The sessions will give USDA and USTR officials an opportunity
to outline general approaches for the next round and to listen to the public
and share ideas about critical trade issues, such as market access, export
subsidies, tariff reductions, internal support, state trading enterprises,
labor and environmental issues, and trade concerns relating to products from
"Through these listening sessions, USTR and USDA will learn first-hand
which issues are most important to farmers, ranchers, and the entire
agriculture industry, and what trade policies would be most effective in
helping to increase U.S. agricultural exports," Ambassador Barshefsky said.
"USTR and USDA negotiators will continuously review the recommendations from
these sessions in developing our negotiating objectives for the next round of
JUNE 4 - Winter Haven, Florida (Nora Mayo Hall)
CONTACT: Will Bussey (850) 488-3022
JUNE 7 - St. Paul, Minnesota (Holiday Inn, St. Paul, East)
CONTACT: Darla Riley (651) 282-5140
STATES: Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin
JUNE 16 - Memphis, Tennessee (Agri-Center International)
CONTACT: Joe Gaines (615) 837-5160
STATES: Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Kentucky, North Carolina,
South Carolina, Mississippi, Arkansas
JUNE 24 - Indianapolis, Indiana (Indiana State Fair)
CONTACT: Julia Wickard (317) 232-8778
STATES: Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, West Virginia
JUNE 29 - Sacramento, California (California Department of Food and
CONTACT: Marjorie Beazer (916) 654-0462
STATES: California, Hawaii, Arizona
JUNE 30 - Pullman, Washington (To be determined)
CONTACT: Lisa Schumaker (360) 902-1926
STATES: Washington, Idho, Oregon, Alaska
JULY 8 - Austin, Texas (The Texas State Capitol)
CONTACT: Dawn DeBerry (512) 475-1615
STATES: Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, New Mexico
JULY 12 - Des Moines, Iowa (To be determined)
CONTACT: Joan Kiernan (515) 281-5323
STATES: Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska
JULY 19 - Burlington, Vermont (To be determined)
CONTACT: Theresa Doyle (802) 828-2430
STATES: Vermont, New York, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire,
Connecticut, Rhode Island
JULY 23 - Bozeman, Montana (To be determined)
CONTACT: Montana Department of Agriculture (406) 444-3144
STATES: Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Nevada, Utah
JULY 23 - Newark, Delaware (University of Delaware)
CONTACT: Brenda Minor (302) 739-4811
STATES: Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland
In order to appear before the USDA-USTR panel, interested persons must
register with their State Departments of Agriculture for the regional
sessions. Written questions and comments will be accepted in writing from
those individuals who cannot attend the listening sessions. Comments must be
received no later than July 26 and can be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or
mailed to: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Trade Policy Comments, Stop 9920,
1400 Independence Ave. SW, Washington, DC 20250-9920.
For more information, contact Marlene Phillips, FAS Outreach Office, at
(202) 720-0103 or email@example.com.
NOTE: USDA news releases and media advisories are available on the Internet.
Access the USDA Home Page on the World Wide Web at http://www.usda.gov
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