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Ag Chairman Combest Issues TPA Statement

November 30, 2001 – House Agriculture Committee Chairman Larry Combest (R-Texas) issued the following statement regarding presidential Trade Promotion Authority:

Last June when I removed my name as a cosponsor of the trade negotiating authority bill, I did so reluctantly because I knew of the President's strong commitment to United States farmers and ranchers and the fact that he has stated repeatedly that agriculture is the cornerstone of his trade policy.

The President met with me last evening and expressed his personal commitment that America's farmers and ranchers will be the beneficiaries of trade promotion authority. The President reiterated his intention that agriculture remain the cornerstone of his Administration's trade program and that his commitment to American farmers and ranchers in all aspects -- including trade negotiations and now a farm bill -- is strong and constant. Therefore it is my intention to support granting the President trade negotiating authority and I pledged to him that I would work hard to gain passage of the legislation.

Nevertheless I remain concerned about the statements and actions of some at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Too many farmers and ranchers have become concerned that USDA does not always have their best interests in mind. This is an issue that I intend to continue to work with the Administration to correct.

To those at USDA, I would recommend that they read the President's speech of November 28, 2001, at the Farm Journal Forum when he said, "a good farm bill should honor our trade obligations, as we expect our competitors to honor their obligations." In that speech he also said that a "good farm bill should keep the safety net under our food producers ... and should be generous, but affordable. It should honor the budget limits that Congress has agreed to live by." The president, in almost every aspect, described the House Agriculture Committee farm bill.

I will support granting the President trade promotion authority and I will also work to make sure the President is presented a good farm bill that he can sign. I hope USDA will cooperate with these efforts. I look forward to being able to work closely with USDA in securing the domestic and trade goals for America's farmers and ranchers that the President and I discussed yesterday.

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