Resolved: That the United States should substantially change its federal agricultural policy.

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Source: CongressDaily/A.M., March 23, 2000 pNA.

Title: Legislators Seek More Information On Upcoming Ag Talks.

Full Text COPYRIGHT 2000 National Journal Group, Inc.

WASHINGTON -- Mar-23 -- (CongressDaily) With the World Trade Organization Agriculture Committee set to meet today and Friday in Geneva to determine the future of the agricultural trade negotiations built into the Uruguay Round, both legislators and lobbying groups are putting on the pressure for more action.

Sens. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., and Larry Craig, R-Idaho, and Reps. Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D., and Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, and four members of the European Parliament--including former French Agriculture Minister Michel Rocard--sent Trade Representative Barshefsky and European Union Trade Minister Pascal Lamy letters Wednesday. The letters request that the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and the European Union report to them by May 1 on the key issues and objectives of the upcoming round of agricultural negotiations that need to be resolved between the European Union and the United States.

The letter also asked the trade officials to provide "relevant comparative statistics from the WTO and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development that will help us understand the rationale behind your objectives for WTO disciplines on agricultural subsidies and support."

The letter noted the eight legislators had chaired a meeting of members of Congress and the European parliamentarians during the trade ministerial in Seattle late last year. They concluded that the Americans and the Europeans, despite their conflicts over export subsidies, had common interests--but often have disagreements over supposedly factual information.

"The ministerial meeting in Seattle was not a failure, but a delay" that gives legislators "a little more time try to resolve our differences," the eight wrote.

In addition, a delegation of U.S. agribusiness and commodity group lobbyists went to Geneva last week and met with WTO, U.S., European, Japanese and Cairns Group representatives.

Craig Thorn, a former U.S. trade negotiator who accompanied the group, said their message was the U.S. agriculture community still wants action as soon as possible--despite discussions about not making progress in the agriculture negotiations until after the U.S. and French elections.

On Wednesday, the Grocery Manufacturers Association and other food industry groups released a letter asking Agriculture Secretary Glickman to conduct an in-depth analysis of the barriers facing exports of processed foods and beverages around the world.

The letter noted that trade in processed foods and beverages is increasing twice as fast as commodity exports, but that these products still face disproportionately high tariffs. -- Jerry Hagstrom

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