Committee Questions Secretary Glickman on use of USDA Export and Market Promotion Programs
Washington, DC — Today, Chairman Larry Combest (R-TX) convened the House Committee on Agriculture to receive testimony from Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman regarding various USDA export and market promotion programs and the extent to which they are used to assist U.S. farmers and ranchers. The hearing also provided a venue to compare expenditures on U.S. programs to those of other countries.
During the hearing, Members questioned Secretary Glickman as to whether the USDA
is maximizing use of programs such as the Export Enhancement Program (EEP) and the Dairy Export Incentive Program (DEIP). Chairman Combest raised his concern that while a total of $2 billion was authorized for EEP from 1996 through 2000, less than $10 million of those funds have been used.
"USDA estimates that U.S. agricultural exports will total $50 billion in 2000, and that the expected trade surplus will be $11 billion, the lowest level since 1986," Combest said. "Because of the reduced value of agricultural exports it is important that the USDA export and market promotion programs are utilized to the maximum extent."
"Our agricultural export programs are a great way to leverage scarce federal resources to create or enhance overseas markets and to address the continued negative impact of low demand overseas," said Ranking Committee Member Charlie Stenholm (D-TX). "We were all disappointed in Seattle last December with the failure to reach a framework agreement for new negotiations on agriculture. Until we begin to see more meaningful progress towards the further reform promised in the Uruguay Round, we must ensure that our export programs are adequately funded and that the Secretary has the necessary tools to keep our farmers and ranchers competitive."
Members, led by Chairman Combest, also expressed concern regarding the wide disparity between U.S. support programs for domestic agriculture and those of other nations. For instance, the European Union spends more than sixteen times as much as the United States on export subsidies, and more than twice as much on domestic support for agriculture.
"As I said following the World Trade Organization Ministerial in Seattle last year, I believe the Agriculture Committee should review all of our options for our own programs," Combest said. "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."