via a special arrangement with Informa Economics, Inc.
Conner says agriculture needs to address
issue of payment limits
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or retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.
USDA Deputy Secretary Chuck Conner made
the following comments during a speech last evening at the Farm Journal
forum held in Washington, D.C. (reportng on the speech from Pro Farmer
news editor Roger Bernard):
-- Agriculture needs to address the issue
of payment limits as it is not going away. "We need
to fix this within our own family,” Conner said. Failure to address
this topic will mean the issue will be forced on agriculture, he concluded.
Farm income figures still show a strong agriculture sector. "Eighty
percent of farm income is coming from the market, not from government
payments,” Conner noted. “But so far, we're not seeing the
impacts of the financial downturn surface for U.S. agriculture.”
-- Trade remains a key for U.S. agriculture,
but Conner said he was troubled by the anti-trade rhetoric by lawmakers
from both parties in the last campaign. "The anti-trade
rhetoric is lethal to our industry,” he stressed. "I hope Congress
will have the fortitude to pass these pending free-trade agreements,”
meaning pending agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea.
-- U.S. should maintain current conservation
program policy. Conner said he hopes the incoming Obama
administration does not shift conservation programs away from the "cooperative
conservation" approach utilized by the Bush administration. He said
the government needs to be a cooperator, not a combatant on conservation
-- Conner's next position.
Conner said he and his wife have decided to stay in the Washington area
as they are making "empty-nest" plans. Conner said he is looking
at opportunities and believes he is close to finding the right opportunity.
Conner is widely expected to take the top position at the National Council
of Farmer Cooperatives in a move early in 2009.
This column is copyrighted material, therefore reproduction or
retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.