- GATT Vote Scheduled for November
- Espy Resigns, Impact on Farm Bill Uncertain
- Ag Budget Cut Under 1995 Spending Bill
- House Passes Reorganization Bill
- Meat and Poultry May Move Freely Across State Lines Under Farm
- Rice Program Under Fire Next Year
- Iowa Plan Proponents Getting Word Out
- ARA Warns 1995 Farm Bill Must Be Different
GATT Vote Scheduled for November
President Clinton has submitted GATT implementing language to
Congress and scheduled a special lame-duck voting session for
lawmakers after the November 8 mid-term elections. The House of
Representatives will vote on the world trade pact November 29.
Members of the Senate, where 60 "yes" votes are required due to the
budget waiver needed to pay for GATT, will vote just a few days
Many agriculture lawmakers, including Senate Agriculture
Committee Chair Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) and House Committee on
Agriculture member Steve Gunderson (R-Wisconsin), say they plan to
vote against the pact.
Leahy says GATT "fails to provide fair rules for our dairy exports. It
fails to protect U.S. intellectual property rights around the world.
And it fails to safeguard America's standard of living by supporting
our absolute right to a clean environment, a safe food supply and
sound labor practices."
The Clinton administration has already initiated attempts to quell
lawmakers' opposition, and gain farm support for the GATT pact. In
a September 30 letter to Chairperson of the House Committee on
Agriculture Kika de la Garza, Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy and
OMB Acting Director Alice Rivlin made the following promises to:
- "refocus USDA's Export Enhancement Program (EEP) and the Dairy
Export Incentive Program (DEIP) so they can be used for market
expansion and promotion, not just for combating unfair trade
- "include full continuation of the CRP in the FY 1996 Budget
baseline, and will propose reauthorization and extension of CRP in
- "maintain total discretionary spending on USDA agricultural
programs at or above the FY 1995 level in the FY 1996 and 1997
Budget requests to Congress; and
- "propose increases in 'greenbox' and other GATT-allowed
agricultural program levels by $600 million over the next 5 years."
The promises, however, have not ensured farm support for the GATT
pact. A coaltion of agriculture and farm organizations, which have
significant support among Southern and Midwestern senators, want
the promises to come directly from President Clinton himself.
Furthermore, the Dairy Trade Coalition expressed disappointment
with dairy provisions contained in GATT implementing legislation
and are encouraging members of Congress to reject the Uruguay
Sources: John Dillon, "Leahy Says He Will Vote Against GATT,"
SUNDAY RUTLAND HERALDAND SUNDAY TIMES ARGUS, October 2,
1994; David Skidmore, "World Trade," AP, September 30, 1994;
"Bentsen Sees Ratification of GATT by Senate in Dec," REUTER, October
2, 1994; Memorandum from Steve Gunderson, October 4, 1994;
"Alarms Set Off by French Concerns on Set-Aside," MILLING &
BAKING NEWS, September 27, 1994; Mario Castillo, DAIRY TRADE
COALITION MEMORANDUM, October 4, 1994; "White House Strikes
Deal With Ag on GATT," REUTER, September 27, 1994; Letter to Kika
de la Garza, September 30, 1994; Bob Davis, "World Trade Pact Is
Delayed in the Congress," WALL STREET JOURNAL, October 6, 1994.
Espy Resigns, Impact on Farm Bill Uncertain
Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy resigned October 3 under White
House and media pressure over his perceived negative ethical
conduct. Espy will retain his position as Secretary until December 31
to ensure a smooth transition when Deputy Secretary Richard
Rominger takes over the post temporarily and to help prepare the
administration's version of the 1995 farm bill.
Thus far, candidates to permanently replace Espy as Secretary
Ruth Harkin, head of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation
and wife of Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa); Undersecretary for Small
Community and Rural Development Bob Nash; Representative Jill
Long (D-Indiana), a rural development advocate on the House
Agriculture Committee; and Representative Mike Synar (D-Oklahoma)
who just lost the primary election in his home state.
The FINANCIAL TIMES notes that whomever replaces Espy will face
the immediate task of fairly representing farmers during the 1995
farm bill debate. "Declining farm populations leave farm states with
fewer representatives in congress just as budget constraints are
making urban politicians resentful of massive U.S. farm payments ...
It is no wonder farm groups feel they need an effective friend at the
helm of the USDA," the FINANCIAL TIMES writes.
Although President Clinton called Espy's decision "appropriate,"
agribusiness representatives and one foreign official say they regret
Espy's resignation. Chicago Board of Trade members are reportedly
"saddened" by Espy's decision to step down. Staplcotn, a cotton
marketing cooperative located in Mississippi, says, "We hate to see
Espy leave. He has been a good friend to agriculture in general."
Likewise, EC Farm Commissioner Rene Steichen "regrets (Espy) has
found it necessary to resign as they've always had good work
Sources: Bruce Ingersoll, Jeffrey H. Birnbaum, "Agriculture Secretary
Espy Resigns Under Pressure From the White House," WALL STREET
JOURNAL, October 4, 1994; "Espy Cabinet Star, Espy Felled by Ethics
Disputes," REUTER, October 3, 1994; David Johnston, "Agriculture
Chief Quits as Scrutiny of Conduct Grows," NEW YORK TIMES, October
4, 1994; "Espy Was a Good Friend of Cotton - Officials," REUTER,
October 3, 1994; "CBOT Members 'Saddened' by Espy Resignation -
CBOT," REUTER, October 3, 1994; "Steichen Regrets Espy Departure,
Seeks Close Farm Ties," REUTER EC REPORT, October 4, 1994; "Espy
Resignation Leaves Farm Interests Adrift," FINANCIAL TIMES,
October 5, 1994; "Espy Turns His Attention to Farm Bill,"
MINNEAPOLIS STAR & TRIBUNE, October 5, 1994.
Ag Budget Cut Under 1995 Spending Bill
A compromise spending bill that cleared the House Friday will cut
agriculture spending by $2.6 billion for the 1995 fiscal year.
The 1995 spending package includes:
- $697.6 million for the Soil Conservation Service, half of the amount
allocated last year;
-$906 million for the Food and Drug Administration;
- $40.2 billion, over half of all USDA spending, for the food stamp,
Women, Infant and Children and other nutrition programs;
- $25 million for food bank and soup kitchen purchases of food, a $55
million cut from 1994;
- $1 billion to cover crop disasters, including the 1994 floods in
Alabama, Georgia and Florida;
- $800 million for the Export Enhancement program, down from last
year's $1 billion allocation;
-$85.5 million for the Market Promotion Program, a 14 percent cut
from last year; and
- $93 million for the Wetlands Reserve Program, a 40 percent
increase over 1994 spending.
The compromise package, which allocates a total of $68 billion for
Agriculture Department spending, still needs Senate approval.
Sources: "Spending Bill Would Cut Ag Budget by $2.6 Billion," AGRI
NEWS, September 29, 1994; Soil Erosion Programs Cut, DES MOINES
REGISTER, September 28, 1994.
House Passes Reorganization Bill
The House gave final approval to the package of combined bills to
reorganize the USDA and reform federal crop insurance. The Senate
is expected to pass the same package soon. The reorganization bill
aims to save $2.3 billion over 5 years by reducing the number of
USDA agencies and closing and consolidating little used field offices.
Source: Guy Gugliotta, "Just Before Espy Resignation, House Passes
USDA Reorganization," WASHINGTON POST, October 4, 1994.
Meat and Poultry May Move Freely Across State Lines Under Farm
Meat and poultry producers will be able to ship their products across
state lines if Representative Steve Gunderson (R - Wisconsin) wins an
amendment to the Meat and Poultry Products Inspection law next
year under the farm bill. Current federal regulations prevent state-
inspected meat and poultry products from moving beyond state
"Under NAFTA, and perhaps GATT, foreign-inspected meat can travel
across state borders, but state inspected meat cannot," Gunderson
told the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock. "That's just
Gunderson said he is considering proposing that the bill, HR 3646, be
considered as an amendment in the 1995 farm bill. However, the
USDA's Food and Safety Inspection Service said the measure would
complicate recall, seizure and detention procedures.
Source: "Allowing State-Inspected Meat to Cross Borders Said to
Complicate Recalls," BUREAU OF NATIONAL AFFAIRS, September 29,
Rice Program Under Fire Next Year
According to SENTER ON THE HILL, a fight is on between farm groups
who want to continue the federal rice program and members of
Congress who want to eliminate it. Representative Dick Armey (R-
Texas) is reportedly leading efforts to end the program, which serves
approximately 95 percent of rice producers in Arkansas, Mississippi,
Louisiana, Texas, Missouri and California.
Rice growing states would be hit hard if federal program benefits are
retracted. "There would be a loss of jobs, increase in farm
bankruptcies and the region would see a decline in its economic well
being," SENTER speculates. In addition, SENTER notes that "if the rice
program is eliminated, producers would shift into cotton, feed grains
and soybeans and increase the cost of those programs."
Sources: SENTER ON THE HILL, October, 1994; "Rice Program," U.S.
AGRICULTURAL POLICY GUIDE, World Perspectives, 1994/1995.
Iowa Plan Proponents Getting Word Out
A number of Iowa agriculture organizations are reaching out to
current and potential lawmakers to promote their "revenue
assurance" proposal for the 1995 farm bill.
Revenue assurance proponents championed their proposal during a
recent meeting sponsored by Tom Latham, a Republican candidate
for Congress in Northwest Iowa's 5th District. Latham says he is "in
no way endorsing" the revenue assurance plan, but pointed out that
lawmakers will need "to go to Washington armed with specific ideas
The Iowa revenue assurance proposal, also referred to as the Iowa
plan, calls for eliminating deficiency payments, disaster payments
and crop insurance for farmers and replacing them with a form of
catastrophic insurance. Under the insurance plan, farmers would
receive payments if their average gross income fell below 70 percent
of long-term averages based on average yields and ASCS median
prices for each county.
Both proponents and opponents of the insurance plan are calling for
more research to determine the program's potential impact on
farmers should lawmakers adopt the plan.
The revenue assurance plan was drawn up by the Iowa Farm Bill
Study Team, which consists of the Agribusiness Association of Iowa,
Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Cattleman's Association, Iowa
Dairy Products Association, Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, Iowa
Institute of Cooperatives, Iowa Pork Producers Association, Iowa
Poultry Association, Iowa Sheep Industry Association, Iowa Soybean
Association, National Farmers Organization.
Source: Gene Lucht, "Ag Leaders Focus on 'Revenue Assurance' Plan,"
IOWA FARMER TODAY, October 1, 1994.
ARA Warns 1995 Farm Bill Must Be Different
Ag Retailer Association President Paul Kindinger recently warned
that the 1995 farm bill must "make the transition from depression-
era policies that are holding the industry down to ones that will
allow us to thrive -- not simply survive."
To achieve this type of change in the 1995 farm bill, Kindinger
suggests lawmakers support provisions that:
-direct research toward improved technologies, such as
biotechnology and the development of new processes that allow
transport to anywhere in the world;
-promote agriculture education in grades K-12 that emphasizes the
"benefits of modern agriculture;" and
-enhance global market development.
Kindinger concludes these types of changes in the 1995 farm bill will
allow businesses like ARA to "win market share, win economically,
and be a major player in a global setting. The '95 farm bill could be
the perfect opportunity to get ahead of the curve for a change with a
totally new agenda for ag policy."
Source: Paul Kindinger, "Farm Bill '95: A New Agenda?" AG RETAILER,
GATT FACT SHEETS. A series of fact sheets, including, "GATT and
Food Safety Standards," "GATT and Retail Food Cooperatives," and
"GATT and Sustainable Agriculture." Free. Contact: the Institute for
Agriculture and Trade Policy, (612) 379-5980. Fax: (612) 379-5982.
A copy of the GATT Uruguay Round implementing legislation (House
Document # 103-316) is available from the Congressional Printing
Office. $89.00. Call (202) 512-1808. Or, contact Kai Mander at IATP
for an electronic mail copy. Free. email@example.com.
Conservation Tillage Series on Video. Five VHS videos, taped from a
series of live satellite broadcasts from January 10 through February
7, 1994, offer a comprehensive overview of conservation tillage.
Videos cost $30.00 for one, or $130.00 for the set. Contact:
Conservation Technology Information Center, (317) 494-9555.
"Findings of the 1995 Iowa Farm Bill Study Team," February 11,
1994. Free. Contact: Iowa Farm Bill Study Team, 306 West Towers,
1200 35th Street, West Des Moines, IA 50266-1992. (515) 225-
The California Sustainable Agriculture Working Group will hold its
first statewide meeting October 8-9, Mallard's Inn Best Western,
Modesto, CA. $60.00. Contact: Kai Siedenburg, California SAWG, P.O.
Box 1599, Santa Cruz, CA 95061. (408) 458-5304. Fax: (408) 454-
0433. E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Plenary and round table topics include pesticide use reduction
successes and legislation, food access and community food security,
prospects for change in the 1995 farm bill, farmworker health and
safety, water distribution, and increasing research and extension
support for sustainable agriculture."
Produced by Gigi DiGiacomo, The Institute for Agriculture and Trade
Policy, 1313 5th Street SE, Suite 303, Minneapolis, MN 55414-1546.
(612) 379-5980. Fax: (612) 379-5982. E-Mail: email@example.com.
The Institute publishes news bulletins on a wide range of
environment, agriculture, trade and biotechnology issues. A copy of
any publication citing material from this bulletin is appreciated.