USDA Deputy Sec. Conner Comments on Policy and Personal Issues

December 2, 2008 06:00 PM
 

via a special arrangement with Informa Economics, Inc.

Conner says agriculture needs to address issue of payment limits


NOTE: This column is copyrighted material, therefore reproduction 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 issues.


-- 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.


NOTE: This column is copyrighted material, therefore reproduction or retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.


 

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