Contact: USDA Office of Communication (202) 720-4623
Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Jim Moseley
Agricultural Outlook Forum
February 21, 2002
"Good morning and welcome. I'm Deputy Secretary Jim Moseley and it's my pleasure to open this 78th
Agricultural Outlook Forum.
With us today are more than 100 distinguished speakers and panelists, and an audience of 1200, including international guests, producers, and representatives from throughout industry and academia.
"I'd also like to welcome those of you listening to the webcast of this morning's events over the Internet, on the USDA home page.
"The Outlook Forum is more than an annual conference. It's an institution, a venerable institution, recognized worldwide for shedding light on prospects for this great industry. It's an opportunity to bring together some of the most thoughtful minds in food and agriculture to ask questions
and lay the issues on all our minds out on the table.
"In the past few years, USDA looked at the world faced by producers and the global agricultural community
high-tech and interconnected markets, export opportunity, sophisticated consumers, new trade rules
and decided that Outlook should do more than reflect current numbers. So, we began to address major economic forces. We added a long-term focus to what had been staple topics since 1923
market prospects for crops and livestock. We figured this is information you need to know.
"This year is different for the agricultural outlook, as it is for every aspect of American life. Our speakers will discuss challenges to delivering a safe and nutritious food supply, challenges with a whole new dimension since September 11th
. Now homeland security is USDA's number one priority. President Bush has proposed funding in the 2003 budget that will build on USDA's work to protect the food supply from inadvertent or deliberate risks. We'll consider food safety from different angles: from the
government-- a discussion of bio-security programs and efforts to safeguard against livestock and plant diseases; and from
industry a look at tracking crop and product identity in the food system.
"Biotechnology is an aspect of the food supply with serious implications for world trade.
It's an area characterized by caution and controversy. Experts from four continents will bring their perspectives to global acceptance of bio-tech and its potential to address hunger.
"Just months after Secretary Veneman was part of the delegation to the WTO ministerial that launched a historic new round of trade negotiations, speakers here will look at all sides of trade and exports. They'll build, to some extent, on the theme that Secretary Veneman struck last year, and discuss the growing sophistication of the global consumer and global sourcing of products.
"And in this year of hotly debated farm legislation, we'll get different perspectives on the House and Senate farm bills.
There's a lot of emphasis on loan rates and counter-cyclical payments, but the American public increasingly aware and concerned - is also looking at conservation and the effect of policy choices on the natural landscape.
"In her keynote remarks, Secretary Ann Veneman will look past and forward. She'll review a year unlike any other for USDA, and project long-term priorities and farm policy. The Secretary will discuss a new era of cooperation that's helping producers address environmental concerns and creating opportunities for farmers and ranchers.
"Rural America is prominent this year, with panels dedicated to the leadership of farm women, to value-added marketing, and strategies for rural prosperity.
"These two days will paint a picture of a changing and unsettled contemporary agriculture. But for all the change, agriculture still revolves around a constant core of markets and the need for market information. With conditions uncertain, and low prices continuing to grip many commodity markets, the outlook forecasts will help clarify what's ahead for farmers and farm commodity prices.
"Please join us this evening when Lawrence Chimerine, President of Radnor International Consulting, Inc., examines the U.S. and World Economic Outlook. And now Chief Economist Keith Collins and Under Secretary J.B. Penn will open this conference with a look at market and policy prospects."