Media Availablity Secretary Ann M. Veneman June 7, 2002 Topics of Discussion include the World Food Summit, Homeland Security, Farm Bill Implementation, Russia Poultry and China | USDA Newsroom
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Release No. 0238.02
Printable VersionPrintable Version
USDA Office of Communication (202) 720-4623

Media Availablity
Secretary Ann M. Veneman
June 7, 2002
Topics of Discussion include the World Food Summit, Homeland Security, Farm Bill Implementation, Russia Poultry and China

Secretary Veneman: "We are going to be participating in the World Food Summit, arriving Sunday and leaving Wednesday morning. In addition, to being the U.S. speaker at the conference I'll have opportunities for a number of bilateral meetings. We will meet with the Vice Premier of China who oversees agriculture. We'll meet with Mr. Gordeyev from Russia for the first time face to face. And we are going to also meet with all of our counterparts of the Americas and talk about issues of common interest -- what we call the ministers, the International Institute for Cooperation in Agriculture, and Mr. Braithwaite who is the new head of that so we'll have a chance to talk about the new direction of IICA . So that is pretty much we are going to do next week. Monday and Tuesday are just going to be packed.

"Yesterday I think you read our statement on the new Department of Homeland Security. We are looking forward to working with Governor Ridge as we work towards this transition and we're really very supportive of this bold move by the President. Hopefully everybody saw his speech last night and what this means.

"Finally, we are also going to be putting out a press release today about hiring about 1,000 new temporary employees for FSA as part of our implementation. I think our implementation is moving along really pretty well. We had our loan rate announcement yesterday and our folks are saying on the farm program side that they are really pleased with the pace at which it is moving. I think our organization that we set up is moving the process really well."

Reporter: About Homeland Security Department-how will it be formed?

Secretary Veneman : "My understanding is that they will be putting together a legislative package."

Reporter: How is this going to affect APHIS, is all of APHIS going over?

Secretary Veneman: "Well, if you look at the materials that were handed out it shows that APHIS would move and Plum Island would move but we will continue to work with Governor Ridge to define the parameters of the legislation. As you know, APHIS has a big border responsibility so we know that has a big part in Homeland Security. We have been talking about the importance of Homeland Security, not just since September 11th , we've called it Homeland Security since Sept. 11th . But we've talked about protecting our food and agriculture supply since we got here and I think this (plan) is strong recognition of how important these programs are to Homeland Security."

Reporter: Will all the labs go to Homeland Security?

Secretary Veneman: "No. Our laboratories are primarily ARS. Regarding ARS, there is not a proposal to move them. The only laboratory that is proposed to move under the President's plan is Plum Island. That's the one on the island in New York."

Reporter: Why was Plum Island moved and not the others? Why not Ames?

Secretary Veneman: "Both of them have joint responsibility - Ames and ARS. I don't know all the details. We will be working with the implementation folks -- with Governor Ridge. We will be talking about how it will be structured and how it might best work in a reorganization."

Reporter: So there is room for substantive change in this new Agency?

Secretary Veneman: "I think it is too early to say how the process is going to work. Right now what we have is what the President released yesterday and that here are the agencies we are proposing to put in this new Department and we are going to be working with them to work out the details as they propose the implementing legislation."

Reporter: What issues are you going to be bringing up with the Vice Premier from China?

Secretary Veneman: "Well I am sure we will talk about the soybean issue. We will talk about the issue of biotechnology regulation and I think we will talk about implementation. This will be an opportunity also to get acquainted. China is a tremendous opportunity in terms of agricultural exports for the United States and it has also presented some challenges like the soybean issue. As you look at the largest market basically by population in the world it's important to establish a good relationship and move forward. We've had several people visit there in particular Dr. Jen has been over there a couple of times talking with the Chinese about research opportunities and cooperation and follow up on some of the conversations he has had and maybe even talk about a possible visit to China at some point."

Reporter: Anything on Russia and poultry?

Secretary Veneman: " I don't know if there will be anything new. Minister Gordeyev and I have been talking periodically on the phone. As you know they do have another technical team coming over here this weekend. And those discussions will get underway and hopefully make progress ahead of our meeting. I think the other thing we want to do -- as I mentioned at the press conference yesterday where Jerry was -- we also want to talk about our broader relationship in agricultural cooperation. As you know Russia and the U.S. have traditionally had a large amount of agricultural cooperation. We want to talk about the broader relationship in addition to how we move forward to get this chicken issue resolved as quickly as possible so that we can continue to have access to that very important market for us."

Reporter: Can we go back to Homeland Security. There are likely to be people on Capitol Hill saying why aren't there parts of the Food Safety Inspection Service and FDA in this proposal because they also do inspections along the border. I wouldn't be surprised if people say this is the time to create a single food agency.

Secretary Veneman: "Well, there has been no discussion of that at this point. And I think it is premature to speculate beyond what the President has put out."