The 107th Congress is considering trade issues with implications for the U.S. agricultural sector. Trade in agricultural commodities and food products affects farm income and rural employment, and it also generates economic activity beyond the farm gate. With agricultural export sales the equivalent of one-quarter of farm income, some policymakers view U.S. efforts to develop market opportunities overseas as vital to the sector’s financial health. Decisions taken by the Bush Administration, and actions taken by Congress, thus will affect the outlook for agricultural trade.
This report discusses the trade provisions of omnibus farm legislation, passed in May 2002. The measure includes a trade title reauthorizing, through 2007, the major foreign food aid and agricultural export programs. It also contains other provisions affecting agricultural trade, including new country-of-origin labeling requirements for meat, seafood, and produce; and increased domestic farm subsidies with possible implications for U.S. trade relations.
The Federal Agriculture Improvement and Reform, or FAIR, Act of 1996 (commonly known as the "farm bill"), which was due to expire in 2002, is expected to be extended for another six years when President Bush signs the bill into law. This report discusses the provisions of the new "farm bill," including the federal spending involved.
This report discusses recently approved legislation reauthorizing major farm income and commodity price support programs through crop year 2007. This legislation includes new “counter-cyclical assistance” programs for grains, cotton, oilseeds, peanuts, and milk. The intent of counter-cyclical assistance is to provide more government support when farm prices and/or incomes decline, and less support when they improve. In fact, farmers have, for many years, been eligible for various forms of counter-cyclical assistance. At issue has been the need for, and potential impacts of, another counter-cyclical program.
A variety of animal agriculture issues, including prices, the impact of consolidation in the meat production/packing industry, trade, and the environmental impacts of large feedlots, continue to generate interest in Congress. This issue brief discusses these issues, as well as the 2002 farm bill, which contains several provisions affecting animal agriculture, including protections for contract growers, disaster assistance, country-of-origin labeling, and increased funding for conservation purposes.
This report discusses legislation regarding commodities and price supports. Since 1933, Congress has required the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to administer various price and income support programs for U.S. farmers. Some standing authority for these programs is provided by three permanent laws, from 1938, 1948, and 1949. However, Congress frequently alters the basic provisions of these laws. The omnibus law now guiding farm support (through 2007) is the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002.
Falling agricultural exports and declining commodity prices led farm groups and agribusiness firms to urge the 106th Congress to pass legislation exempting foods and agricultural commodities from U.S. economic sanctions against certain countries. In completing action on the FY2001 agriculture appropriations bill, Congress codified the lifting of unilateral sanctions on commercial sales of food, agricultural commodities, medicine, and medical products to Iran, Libya, North Korea, and Sudan, and extended this policy to apply to Cuba (Title IX of H.R. 5426, as enacted by P.L. 106-387; Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000). Related provisions place financing and licensing conditions on sales to these countries. Those that apply to Cuba, though, are permanent and more restrictive than for the other countries. Other provisions give Congress the authority in the future to veto a President's proposal to impose a sanction on the sale of agricultural or medical products.
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