Testimony Before The Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry
Agriculture Ann M. Veneman
on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry
September 26, 2001
very pleased to be here with the Senate Agriculture Committee this
morning.Thanks to Chairman Harkin,
Senator Lugar, and the members for the invitation to discuss the
Administrations views on future food and agriculture policy.I will make a short statement, and then will
be pleased to respond to your questions.I would ask that my longer statement be submitted for the record.
The focus of my statement today is
to share with you our views on the agriculture sector of the future and to
suggest some guiding principles we have developed from a recent stocktaking
This is a most opportune time to be
reviewing the status of our industry and examining the current policies.The events of the past two weeks clearly
have reminded us of the need to re-examine many of the things we long have
taken for granted.The vital role of
our food and agriculture system should be near the top of the list.Thus, I suggest that this current review of
our farm policythe passage of new farm legislationnow should be viewed more
broadly and in a different context than we would have just a short time ago.
Since the beginning of the year,
the occurrence of several major events has thoroughly convinced me of the
urgency of a comprehensive review of todays agricultureall of the policies,
programs, and other supporting public infrastructure. The Foot and Mouth
Disease (or FMD) outbreak in the United Kingdom and on the European continent
was a major threat to our livestock and grain industries.We immediately stepped up our border
control.We reviewed and strengthened
the already tight protections that USDA had in place. And, we sent dozens of veterinarians to
Europe to help contain the disease and also to learn as much as we can about
it.Fortunately, we have maintained our
72-year record of keeping the United States free of FMD.
The spread of BSE in Europe and the
recent find in Japan has enormous implications for beef and feed markets. Our
policies to regulate feeding practices and actively test for BSE have protected
our consumers, farmers, and ranchers.
The emergence of agricultural
biotechnology and its rapid and widespread adoption in this country is posing
significant new challenges throughout our food system and the global trading
holds tremendous promise.However, the
StarLink incident clearly illustrated the importance of continuing to assure a
coordinated and rigorous science-based approach to this emerging technology.
date, our food system has stood the test of significant challenges.And, they serve to reemphasize just how
valuable our public infrastructure of specialists, institutions, and facilities
are to our agricultural economy.Our
policies, regulations, and supporting institutions must keep pace with new
technology, the shifting business environment, and our industry structure.
TRANSFORMATION TO A CONSUMER
Agriculture is being influenced by
many of the same forces that are shaping the American economy of the 21st
century:globalization of markets and
culture; advances in information, biological, and other technologies; and
fundamental changes in our family structure and workforce.The combination of these forces has now
produced a decided shift from the commodity-based, surplus-oriented, production
focus of the last century to one now defined by products, services, markets,
and consumers.Increasingly, our
consumers insist on defining what is produced, how food production takes place,
and with what effects.The food system
now is clearly consumer-driven.
Several examples show how consumers
are driving changes in our food system:
lifestyles and greater demands for convenience mean that forty-five percent of
total food spending is now away from home.
marketing is changing as warehouse club stores and specialty stores are gaining
popularity.The supermarket share of grocery
food sales fell from 78 to 70 percent in five years between 1992 and 1997.
more than 96 percent of the worlds population living outside the United
States, exports already account for some 25 percent of total farm sales and
represent the largest potential growth market for the future.Access to these markets not only requires
overcoming barriers created by high tariffs but also different cultures,
languages, and preferences for food.
in exports mirror the fundamental importance of consumer demand with growth in
trade of high-value products.Both U.S.
and global exports of commodities continue to grow, but exports of high-value
products (meats, poultry, fruits and vegetables, and processed products) are
growing even more rapidly and now account for two-thirds of total export sales,
compared with only half in 1990.
food industry is more closely coordinated the supply chain to swiftly translate
consumer signals into products.By
establishing direct ties to growers through contracts, food retailers better
ensure that product qualities are tailored to consumer requirements.While some producers are concerned that the
increased contracting has limited price information and made repercussions for
farm structure, farmers in turn benefit by having an assured buyer and
receiving premium prices for products with desired characteristics.In 2000, two-thirds of hogs were sold under
contracts, in contrast to only 1 percent in 1970.
maintain the high level of consumer confidence in the safety of our food,
diverse interests are working together. State Quality Assurance Plans,
voluntary agreements that provide guidelines for safe food production and sound
environmental practices, have been adopted in California and other states for
commodities including eggs, produce, and dairy.
safety policy that brings together Government, industry, and the research
community has also worked.The Hazard
Analysis and Critical Control Point pathogen-reduction system (HACCP) has been
fully implemented, and we see the prevalence of Salmonella on raw meat and
poultry products continue to decline.Sustained reductions in some food borne illness also can be seen in
recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
At the same time the market
environment is changing, we are increasingly aware of the enormous changes that
are occurring in our farm sector. A concentration of resources into fewer and
larger farms occurred throughout the 20th century.While production doubled over the last 50
years, farm numbers dropped by more than two-thirds. Today, about 150,000
American farmers produce most of our food and fiber. While among the worlds
most competitive farms, these commercial operations make up just one segment of
U.S. agriculture.USDA counts another
two million plus farmers who meet the criterion of potential sales of at least
$1,000 of agricultural products annually, including many people with non-farm
occupations but who enjoy rural lifestyles.
A vast diversity of businesses and
households emerges out of this multitude: niche farms, hobby farms, hunting
preserves, dude ranches, you-pick operations, farms that sell directly to
consumers through farmer's markets, bed and breakfasts, and more.
produce scores of different commodities every year and countless varieties of
products, even though bulk commoditiessuch as cotton, corn, wheat, and other
food and feed grains that are the focus of government programssymbolize
agriculture for many.These program crops,
grown on almost every farm in the 1930s, are produced today on only 30 percent
of all farms and account for just 20 percent of the total value of agricultural
the 1930s, when price and income support programs first were developed, there was
little need to distinguish among farms, farmers, or farm households. In fact,
farms and households (and farming communities, in many cases) were closely
intertwined as a way of life and were considered inseparable. Today, fewer
farmers are full time, choosing to merge farm and nonfarm employment
opportunities.While income from
farming, as measured by net cash farm income, was $55.7 billion in 1999,
off-farm sources contributed $124 billion.
widespread importance of off-farm income illustrates that for the majority of
farm households, the vitality of the general economy is far more important to
their well being than the level of commodity prices.This is reflected in the reversal of the long-term trend of declining
farm numbers to the 1990s and modest increases since 1996.The long-time prosperity in the general
economy accounts for this, particularly boosting small farm numbers that
primarily serve as rural residences.
Forces Driving Change
Today, a number of very powerful
forces are propelling the fast-paced changes occurring in every single
component of the food system.Globalizationthe growing competitive pressure from closer integration
of business all around the worldalong with a broad range of new technologies,
from information advances to biotechnology, are converging to further alter the
farm and food system as we know it.Understanding the nature of these drivers helps define the needs for
the agriculture and food system of the future.
Global Markets. Political boundaries no longer constrain the
conduct of good business, and this includes agribusiness. Better, faster, more
reliable communications and transportation systems facilitate businesses
abilities to produce, source, and sell in the locations that give them best
advantage, even if that means operating in multiple locations around the world.
This globalization of markets pressures firms to be more competitive and to
shorten the supply chain (reducing the number of business transactions and
their associated costs) in order to meet rapidly changing consumer demand.
Businesses in the food system
around the world compete against each other to provide high-quality products at
the best price.Globalization makes it
imperative for companies to diversify their sources of raw materials and buy
from the farmer, wholesaler, or food processing company that provides the best
product for the lowest price at any given time. We can no longer think of our
agriculture as being confined to what takes place within our borders.It is part of a larger, worldwide
Technological Innovation. New technology not only has facilitated
the growth of global markets by reducing the constraint of geography, but also
spurred remarkable adaptation of the U.S. food and agricultural system to new
global conditions and demands. Agricultural technology traditionally focused on
tools and techniques to lower farm costs and increase yields. Today, new
biological and information technologies actually expand markets for farmers and
assure better communication between producers and consumers, further increasing
The extent that technology already
has transformed most aspects of the food and agriculture system shows the
enormous promise for developing new markets, increasing our competitiveness,
ensuring the safety of our food, and solving environmental problems.A few examples show why we see agriculture
is future filled with exciting new opportunities for our farmers and food
agriculture promises both greater production efficiency and coordination of
input application with environmental considerations.A growing number of farms currently use sensors, automated
responses to monitored variables, robotic machinery, and other high-tech means
to optimize both production efficiency and environmental quality.
and processing technologies are opening entirely new markets for the farm
sector.In addition to the traditional
nutrition market, farmers soon will have opportunities in energy, industrial, and
pharmacological markets around the globe.Biologically based technologies are particularly promising as the source
of new products for farmers.
agriculture already is the source of clean-burning fuel and industrial ethanol,
a variety of specialty chemicals derived from plants, soy-based inks and diesel
fuel, industrial adhesives, biopolymers, and films. Scientists now say that
soybean oil could replace a significant share of petroleum-based resin used in
manufacturing auto parts.
can provide solutions to food safety by reducing the threat of foodborne
disease before an animal even becomes food.Scientists are working on feed additives to eliminate pathogens like Salmonella and E. coli 0157: H7 from hogs and cows intestinal tracts before
technology is revolutionizing ways in which foods can be marketed.An example is the development of
breathable bags that preserve washed and mixed, ready-to-eat salad greens,
baby carrots and sliced apples that gave rise to an entirely new
value-added-segment of the food industry with over a billion dollars in sales.
NEW REALITIES FOR THE FOOD
All of the things I have just
described clearly characterize a far different farm and food system operating
in a far more complex business environment than in the past.The situation today also is far different
than when many of our policies, programs, regulations, and other aspects of the
public infrastructure were put in place.
Thus an opportune time to consider
whether the public policies, institutions, and investments that have served the
sector so well in the past century are still the most relevant and
effective.Reflection on our
experiences and the profound changes in the farm and food system can suggest
the basis for principles to guide review and development of new policy
approaches, revamped institutions, and redirected investments.
Mr. Chairman, how we approach these
issues will set the course for American agriculture for the next decade and
beyond, and I would like to discuss our assessment of several important areas.
Trade leads the list, given the enormous importance of global markets to all
parts of our food system.
TRADE EXPANSION IS CRITICAL
Trade is critically
important to the long-term economic health and prosperity of our food and
agricultural sector.We have far more
capacity than needed to meet domestic food market requirements. To avoid excess
capacity throughout our system -- including farmland, transportation,
processing, financing, and other ancillary services -- we must aggressively
expand our sales to customers abroad. Clearly, without the salutary effects of
an expanding export market, farm prices and net cash incomes would be
significantly lower today.
More than 96 percent of the worlds population lives outside the United
States. Most growth in food demand will be in developing and middle income
countries, where both population and income are growing relatively rapidly. The
International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) suggests that by 2020, 85
percent of the increase in global demand for cereals and meat will occur in
developing countries and that the demand for meat in the developing world could
access to foreign markets requires aggressive trade policy to lower tariffs and
eliminate trade-distorting subsidies.Failure to provide strong leadership in global trade liberalization will
result in our producers and exporters being left behind.Other nations are aggressively pursuing
preferential agreements, many right in this hemisphere that could preclude us
from markets where we have important cost advantages.
me be very clear.We must help our
farmers expand into new markets if they are going to succeed in this
they will be left behind.We need the
tools like TPA to open new markets and reduce tariffs.
must also ensure that domestic farm support and international trade policies
are consistent and mutually reinforcing.It makes no sense to have trade policies and programs promoting farm
exports at the same time domestic support programs inadvertently reduce
competitiveness.Our domestic and
export policy not only must support our existing international obligations but
at the same time give us ample latitude in pursuing ambitious goals in ongoing
and future negotiations.
FARM SECTOR POLICY
With regard to farm sector policy,
it is useful at the outset to reaffirm that this Administration continues to
view the farm sector as both critically important and unique.We believe our society agrees and embraces
the concept of an economic safety net for our producers, to help cushion
occasional adverse financial circumstances that are clearly beyond their
control.The task then becomes one of
defining such a safety net that is both appropriate for our diverse producers
and suitable for the times.
More than seven decades of farm
policy have provided a rich, full experience upon which to draw as we
contemplate appropriate 21st Century policies for our industry. Our
experience with policies and programs during this time has proved very
instructive, helping us to avoid the mistakes of the past. History also shows
that growth in farm income has been due largely to rapid improvements in
productivity resulting from a strong research base and better opportunities to
market products including export markets.Farm household income has benefited enormously from off-farm employment
of the program approaches since the 1930s did not meet their objectives,
produced unexpected and unwanted consequences, became far costlier than
expected, and have been continually modified in our long succession of farm
laws.Some major, and still highly
relevant, lessons learned include:
shown that supporting prices is self-defeating.Government attempts to hold prices above
those determined by commercial markets have made matters worse time after
time.Artificially higher prices
encouraged even more unneeded output from the most efficient producers at the
same time they discouraged utilization, consequently pushing surpluses higher
and prices lower.Costs to taxpayers
grew until the point was reached where something more had to be done.All too often, that turned out to be finding
ways to restrict output.
proved costly to taxpayers and consumers and the unused resources were a
drag on overall economic performance.But, perhaps most important, limiting our acreage was a signal to our
competitors in other countries to expand theirs, and we lost market share that
is always difficult to recapture.
Stockholding and reserve plans distort markets.While isolating stocks from the market when supplies are
abundant is attractive for its short-term stimulus, such stocks eventually must
be returned to the market, and they limit the recovery of prices.Moreover, time after time, stocks have
proved costly to maintain, distorted normal marketing patterns, ceded advantage
to competitors, and proved tempting targets for political tampering.
·Program benefits often produced unintended (and
rapidly changing farm sector structure produced a wide array of farm sizes and
efficiencies.Many farms were low cost
and the programs were of enormous benefit, enabling them to expand their operations.Others did not receive sufficient benefits
to remain viable and thus were absorbed along the way.
clarity of these lessons provided several emphatic turning points in national
policy.The 1985 farm law proved to be
one such point when, after long debate on fundamental philosophy, a more
market-oriented approach was adopted.That market orientation was extended in the 1990 farm law, reducing
government intrusion and expense in farmer decision-making and in the operation
of the markets.
Federal Agriculture Improvement and Reform (FAIR) Act of 1996 proved to be
historic by removing most of the decades-old program structure, provided
unparalleled farmer decision-making flexibility through decoupled benefits,
and set a new example throughout the world for providing domestic farm sector
support.While that approach still is
arguably the least market--and resource use--distorting approach available, its
direct decoupled payments do share some unintended effects with price support
programs, namely the artificial inflation of farmland prices.The effect clearly has been exacerbated by
the size of supplemental payments in recent years, some $28 billion in the last
four years above the amount provided in the 1996 law.
Another unintended consequence of
current programs stems from the increasing disconnect between land ownership
and farm operation.While program
benefits were intended to help farm operators, most support eventually accrues
to landowners, in the short run through rising rental rates and in the longer
term through capitalization into land values. For many farm operators, renting
land is a key strategy to expand the size of the business and capture the size
economies, as evidenced by 42 percent of farmers renting land in 1999. Operators farming mostly rented acreage may
receive little benefit from the programs.
The 1996 FAIR Act also continued
the marketing loan program, another evolution of the old price support idea,
but importantly modified to avoid government stockholding, which proved so
burdensome in times past.Marketing
loan payments effectively provide a large counter cyclical component to farm
income, but distort markets by limiting the production response to falling
market prices. The program guarantees a price for traditional program
commodities (food grains, feed grains, and cotton) and oilseeds.As market prices have fallen below this
guaranteed price, total marketing loan benefits have risen from less than $200
million for the 1997 crop year to $8 billion for the 1999 and $7.3 billion to
date for the 2000 crops.Since 1996,
counter cyclical marketing loan benefits have totaled about $20 billion.
the current policy made large strides towards greater market orientation, a
careful evaluation in the context of today's diverse farm structure and
increasingly consumer-driven marketplace still reveals severe misalignment
among policy goals, policy mechanisms, and outcome.New approaches could support and help sustain prosperity for
farmers, agriculture and rural communities without engendering long-term
dependence on direct government support.
all, effective farm policies for the new century must build upon the lessons
learned from over seven decades of rich experience with the farm programs.Even the most carefully designed government
intervention often distorts markets and resource allocation, produces
unintended consequences and spreads benefits unevenly.We cannot afford to keep relearning the
lessons of the past.
agricultural policies must recognize the wide diversity in the farm sector
itself, in terms of size, location, financial status, crop and livestock
products produced, managerial abilities, income sources, and goals and
aspirations.The problems faced by
various groups are widely different and require solutions tailored to
effectively address particular needs.
policies should provide a market‑oriented economic safety net for
farmers.The national recognition that
the farm sector is both unique and essential is long standing and widely
held.The result is a parallel
commitment to policies that support open markets and those that prevent
excessive downturns in the farm sector.Thus, these programs must conform to basic public policy principles
including effectiveness, transparency, equity, consistency, comprehensiveness
and trade competitiveness.Current
policies now take several forms including counter cyclical loans, crop and
revenue insurance and direct payments, but could be constructed with other
programs (such as tax‑deferred income accounts) that fully comply with
Chairman, the next topic that I will discuss has received little attention thus
far in the ongoing policy discussions, but is one that I will argue is of
enormous and growing importance.And,
that topic is what we are calling our agriculture infrastructure, the
fundamental public sector underpinning for our industry.
agriculture successfully delivers abundant, affordable, safe and nutritious food
to markets worldwide. Nothing has been more important to this success than an
extensive physical and institutional infrastructurein effect, the backbone of
the food and agricultural system. The agricultural infrastructure includes
research, information, inspection, monitoring, testing, promotionall of the
basic services, facilities, equipment, and institutions needed for the economic
growth and efficient functioning of the food and fiber markets. It means
services to protect farmers and ranchers from the threats of crop and animal
pests and consumers from foodborne diseases, the research and cooperative
extension system that undergirds production, marketing and regulatory
functions, food product inspection, nutrition information, and natural resource
conservation.It means all other
functions of USDA agencies, as well as farm service centers, data, information
technologies and intellectual property management.
We need to evaluate this broad infrastructure
with a long term view as to what is required for a healthy and prosperous farm
and food sector and trading system and, very importantly, to ensure that it
continues to engender widespread consumer confidence and support.This may entail refocusing institutions and
their missions, modernizing and better coordinating infrastructure and perhaps
expanding investment in parts of the system.
It is difficult to overstate the importance of
science as the basis for our decisions. Regardless of good intentions, no
program, no mandate, no request, or emergency action can be carried out unless
the appropriate research base, scientists, laboratories, methods, data and
information, institutions, and technologies are available. New science is
needed to ensure that required regulations in food safety, animal and plant
health, environment and other areas, are sound and cost-effective.
our pest and disease prevention for plants and animals from whatever source is
a growing priority.Science,
technology, and intergovernmental cooperation are key to keeping crop and
animal pests and diseases out of the United States, and to managing the pest
and disease challenges we face inside our borders.For, example, we worked with the EPA to develop a new protocol
for environmental inspectors visiting farms for any reason.
we must build on current success in providing safe food for all Americans.Emerging pathogens mean that our food safety
systems must be continually assessed and updated in order to maintain consumer
confidence in our food supply.Improved
animal production systems, better pathogen control during processing and
distribution, and increased education on food safety issues and on food
handling and preparation practices for consumers and food retailers all help to
strengthen the food safety system.
CONSERVATION AND ENVIRONMENT
Now, Mr. Chairman, I turn to
conservation, another area that is receiving increased attention both in the
farm sector and throughout rural America.Our conservation policy has evolved from an early focus of keeping productive
topsoil in place.Reducing soil erosion
was an overriding concern, and became a primary accomplishment.We now realize that the off-farm effects of
farming include a wide variety of environmental impacts.Thus, conservation policy has evolved to incorporate
broader measures of water and air quality, as well as protection of wildlife
habitat and wetlands.Moreover,
emerging issues gaining public attention include nutrient runoff from livestock
production, water conservation, energy production, and reduced greenhouse gas
As the scope of environmental
concerns has expanded, a wider range of conservation policy instruments is
needed to address them. Traditional land retirement (the Conservation Reserve
Program) has dominated Federal spending on conservation since 1985; 92 cents of
every dollar spent on direct conservation payments to farmers pays for rental
and easement payments for idling environmentally sensitive cropland and cost
sharing for management practices that enhance the environmental benefits from
retired lands.However, considerable
conservation activities are carried out on vast stretches of working lands due
to voluntary actions and to comply with conservation compliance and other regulatory
should continue to improve our approaches and tools, ensuring that farmers have
access to conservation programs that fit their needs.Technical assistance, incentives for improved practices on
working farm and forestlands, compensation for environmental achievements long-term
and permanent easements, and continued dedication of certain farmland and
private forestlands to environmental use will provide a coordinated and
flexible multi-faceted approach to achieve agri-environmental goals.
Another topic that I believe deserves a fresh look and requires new
approaches is our rural communities.Farming no longer anchors most rural economies as it did in the early 20th
century.Seven out of eight rural
counties are now dominated by varying concentrations of manufacturing,
services, and other non-farming activities, and current commodity-based farm
policies do not address the complexities of rural economies and populations.
Jobs and incomes are declining in many areas dependent on natural
resource-based industries, while other places, often associated with the
provision of rural amenities, are thriving.
We must recognize that rural
development policy is not synonymous with agricultural policy.Traditional commodity support and
farming-oriented development programs play an increasingly limited role in the
improved well-being of rural Americans. Instead, in something of a reversal,
the nonfarm economy now anchors much of agriculture, and rural policy for the
21st century must recognize the increased importance of nonfarm jobs
and income as the drivers of rural economic activity.
Creating an environment that will attract and sustain private
investment, job growth, and income generation activities in rural America,
including regional development initiatives and creative pilot programs, is an
Our rural policies should emphasize the need for greater education and
technical skills.In the past, many rural
areas hosted industries that required a reliable pool of low-skilled, low-cost
workers.Employers are now more
attracted to concentrations of well-educated and skilled workers.Education and worker training are essential
in helping rural communities cultivate high-performance, knowledge-based
companies, while human capital and earnings potential are improved by
strengthening classroom instructional quality and facilitating school-to-work
Policies that find alternative methods to increase rural income from
the natural resource base, such as energy production, are also important.
Dedicated crops and agricultural residues can be used to produce fuels, such as
ethanol and biodiesel, and biomass to power turbines to produce electricity.
Rural areas are well suited for the development of renewable wind and solar
energy due to the open spaces.
NUTRITION AND FOOD
Next, I will touch on a major
accomplishment of our food and agriculture policy, ensuring that all Americans
have access to a healthy and nutritious food supply, regardless of income.This policy has encompassed a wide array of
food assistance and nutrition programs that have humanitarian, investment, and
agricultural support goals.Core
efforts include the Food Stamp Program, child nutrition programs, the Special
Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and
commodity distribution programs.Today,
these nutrition assistance programs serve one in every six Americans at some
point during the year.In addition to
ensuring access to adequate food, the programs promote healthy diets for all
should continue our commitment to a national nutrition safety net.A well-nourished population is healthier,
more productive, and better able to learn.No child or needy family should be left behind for want of food.The national nutrition safety net, including
WIC, should be supported and targeted to those most in need.
While the problems of hunger and
food insecurity remain significant, important new problems are emerging related
to diet qualitythe proper variety and quantities of foods and nutrients in an
individuals diet to promote their health and well-being. American consumers
must become more aware of the link between diets, health, and physical
activity, and motivated to make appropriate changes.To this end, we believe that any proposal to reauthorize the Food
Stamp program must address these issues, as well as foster the transition to
work and self-sufficiency, simplify the program rules to reduce administrative
complexity and improve program effectiveness and accountability.
OF INTEGRATED PROGRAMS
Mr. Chairman, I turn to an area that is especially relevant to those of us at
USDA, and that is delivering services to our widely diverse constituency using
the most effective means now at our disposal.
circumstances strongly suggest the need for reflection on the program delivery
needs of the future. The issues facing the modern food and farm system today
are so multifaceted and complex that they cannot be solved by any one program
or approach. Protecting against plant and animal pests and diseases, or
eliminating emerging foodborne pathogens, or overcoming the barriers to
producing bioenergy efficiently, or ensuring nutritious food for low income
households, or encouraging cost-effective carbon sequestration on farms and in
forests all of these require a cooperative approach among agencies.
A number of approaches can be taken
to substantially improve service, even without major, additional restructuring.
These include: one-stop shopping for delivery of services; sharing data,
information, and computing environments across agencies and programs; and new
flexibility for increased coordination and sharing of resources, both human and
financial.Advances in information
technology should allow agencies, at very low cost, to share key data so that
customers can be spared the burden of providing the same information to
multiple Federal offices.
In providing services, we will encourage a
coordinated view of functions and services, including instituting a range of
practices, including one-stop- shopping for USDA services, common electronic
work environments, consistent data across agencies, data sharing, and increased
resource flexibility among agencies, that encourage a corporate rather than a
fragmented view toward program implementation.
extends beyond the Department and we will pursue partnership
opportunities.Continued and increased
cooperation and partnership opportunities need to be sought with program
beneficiaries; Congress; consumers; industry; NGOs; state and local
governments; universities; and others.
Mr. Chairman, our entry into a new
century presents leaders in agriculture a unique opportunity to discharge our
responsibility.We now have an opportunity
to take the long viewto step back and determine as best as we can the future
requirements of our food system and to put in place the plans and investments
that will be necessary to enable it to serve us as well in the decades ahead as
it has in the past.
Thank you for the opportunity to
discuss our vision and to share the guiding principles we have developed. Our
report, Food and Agriculture Policy:Taking Stock for the New Century is
available on the USDA website (www.usda.gov).We look forward to the opportunity to work with you in the
future, and I will be pleased to respond to any questions.