Washington, DC — House Agriculture Committee Chairman Larry Combest (R-TX) today issued the following statement regarding the World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations which took place in Seattle last week:
"The World Trade Organization Ministerial in Seattle offered a great opportunity to agree to future negotiations that would level the agricultural playing field, including the elimination of foreign subsidies that put U.S. farmers and ranchers at a significant disadvantage. Foreign countries' highly subsidized programs, including export subsidy programs, hurt American producers. While I was hopeful that an agreement could be obtained to proceed with agricultural negotiations, no agreement is better than a bad one. I commend Ambassador Charlene Barshefsky, Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman and Agricultural Trade Ambassador Peter Scher for hanging tough."
"Without a framework to at least begin negotiations toward subsidy elimination, I believe the Agriculture Committee should review all of our options for our own programs. As Chairman of the Committee, I want to look at everything available to us and consider steps to insure our farmers are not disadvantaged. Our farmers can compete with any farmers in the world but cannot and should not be forced to compete with other governments. I intend to do everything I can to guarantee that they do not have to."
"I hope that the discussions do resume early next year and can be positively concluded. An international "bidding war" could become very expensive and counterproductive. If that however is the only option available, I want our farmers to know I will do everything I can to make sure America's "bid" in the war is competitive."