USDA Secretary Talks Farm Bill, Doha

Mike Johanns stresses the importance of free and fair trade in farm bill discussions.

USDA Secretary Mike Johanns told the Kentucky Farm Bureau Thursday that with U.S. agricultural production growth outpacing U.S. population growth, the 2007 Farm Bill needs to take into account exports and the potential to renew the Doha round of trade talks.

Johanns reported that the ERS is projecting the lowest ever farm debt-to-asset ratio and that net cash income is expected to decrease from the past two years' record-high levels, but should remain above the 10-year average.

Agricultural is increasing by around 2% a year, while U.S. population is increasing around 1%, Johanns mentioned by way of voicing support for policy supporting agricultural exports.

Johanns brought up the WTO Doha round of trade talks, stressing the importance of considering trade with other countries in farm policy discussions.

"Exports are increasingly important," he said. "In Kentucky alone exports are valued at $1 billion. I wouldn't be doing my job as Secretary of Agriculture if I recommended a policy that jeopardized $1 billion of your business."

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