ALABAMA FARMER TESTIFIES BEFORE HOUSE AG COMMITTEE
WASHINGTON, D.C. - An Alabama peanut producer, along with American Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman and other farm leaders, told the House Agriculture Committee during a Sept. 20 hearing they support the 2002 farm bill and favor extending the law until a final World Trade Organization agreement is in place.
|Baldwin County peanut producer Mark Kaiser, left, testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture in Washington, D.C., Sept. 20 on behalf of the Southern Peanut Farmers Federation.|
Mark Kaiser, a director of the Alabama Peanut Producers Association, spoke on behalf of the Southern Peanut Farmers Federation (SPFF). He told committee members there is support of the current structure of the peanut program, with modifications, including correcting the loan repayment rate for peanuts administered by USDA.
"Peanut producers in the Southeast are very concerned about the revival of the World Trade Organization negotiations," Kaiser said during his testimony. "The SPFF has met with the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative on several occasions. The representatives do not seem to understand that the U.S. peanut producers' problem has not closed foreign markets, but a USDA loan repayment rate set far too high, assuring that potential foreign buyers find U.S. peanuts cost prohibitive."
Kaiser suggested restoring the storage and handling provision for 2007, adding that he believes the entire industry favors an improved program based on the current structure.
Stallman told congressmen it is critical that a WTO agreement is finalized before changing farm policy.
"This approach provides U.S. trade representatives the strongest negotiating leverage," said Stallman. "If we reduce our domestic supports in an upcoming farm bill debate, we have less leverage to use to convince other countries to reduce their tariffs and export subsidies. Our strongest negotiating leverage is to maintain our current programs until we agree to a WTO round that is beneficial for agriculture."