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WTO negotiations could undermine Farm Bill efforts
01
Mar '08
National Cotton Council Chairman Larry McClendon said the NCC will continue to work closely with Congress to ensure final passage and implementation of the farm bill and a successful conclusion to the World Trade Organization (WTO) Doha negotiations.

In an address here at the Southern Cotton Ginners Association's Ag Update, McClendon recapped the NCC's two-year efforts to develop sound farm policy that would: 1) provide a solid safety net for producers, ensure competitive prices in the international market, 2) align provisions of the upland cotton marketing loan with market signals and 3) streamline the flow of cotton to the marketplace. He said the Council also sought to avoid any tightening of payment limits or increased standards for eligibility for program benefits; to get a safety net of unlimited access to a marketing loan with redemption at the adjusted world price; and have the counter-cyclical payment decoupled from production with the direct payment left as the cornerstone of cotton policy.

“The farm bills in the House and Senate largely reflect the provisions sought by the Council,” he stated. “The Council has urged Conferees to include reforms that are part of the House or Senate bills in the new farm bill.”

The Arkansas ginner said the Council also has strongly urged Conferees to continue to reject proposals by the Administration and others for more extreme changes to Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) means tests that carry unknown consequences.

“We also believe that any new rules should be gradually phased-in to allow growers, land owners and lenders to adjust to the new rules and regulations,” he said.

McClendon said the remaining contentious issues between the House and Senate bills and between Congress and the Administration are: 1) the farm bill funding level above the base line determination and the revenue source for that funding and 2) the Administration's pressing for additional payment eligibility reform, especially AGI means test provisions.

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