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

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

Title: EU Official Criticizes U.S. Freedom To Farm Payments.(Brief Article)

Full Text COPYRIGHT 2000 National Journal Group, Inc.

WASHINGTON -- Jun-23 -- (CongressDaily) European Union Agriculture, Rural Development and Fisheries Commissioner Franz Fischler Thursday said U.S. agricultural subsidies have increased by 700 percent since 1996, and that finalization of the crop insurance reform-farm economic relief bill signed by President Clinton Tuesday showed the United States is not serious about reducing agricultural subsidies.

"Providing supplementary support of over $15 million to U.S. farmers severely undermines the credibility of the frequent U.S. statements on the need for a global reduction in agricultural support," Fischler said.

An accompanying release said EU officials believe U.S. direct payments to farmers are averaging $16,000 per year--more than three times the level of EU support.

Agriculture Secretary Glickman issued a statement in reaction Thursday. "All the assistance fits within our [World Trade Organization] commitment and is extremely important because of the weather and low prices," Glickman said.

The EU release said Fischler would "carefully monitor" U.S. policy to ensure the United States respects its WTO commitments and will oppose any attempt by the United States to circumvent its WTO spending limit by "misclassifying these financial handouts."

Fischler was referring to whether the United States will classify the additional Freedom to Farm payments of recent years as production-related and trade distorting.

Glickman earlier this week told a House Agriculture Committee hearing that he had personally ordered a delay in reporting the classification to the WTO until the end of the year because other countries also have been late with their reports.

Meanwhile, EU Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy, in a Thursday speech at the Southern Africa Economic Summit in Durban, South Africa, said, while he favors integration of developing countries into the world trading system, he considers agriculture an exception.

"We must also admit that there are exceptions to the logic of international division of labor based on comparative advantages," Lamy said. "Agriculture, for instance, is a formidable issue at the crossroads of major environmental, food security, health and food safety concerns."

Glickman also told the House Agriculture Committee that he intends to visit Africa later this summer. Glickman said he wants to take advantage of provisions in the recently passed Africa trade bill to increase agricultural trade and also to "freshen up" U.S. food aid programs. -- Jerry Hagstrom

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