Texas Farmer Union President Calls for 
Ag Policy Change;Cites Freedom to Farm, 
Failed Promises, Need for More Competition, 
Fair Trade

WACO, TX (July 20, 2000) - Texas Farmers Union (TFU) President Wes Sims today proposed policy changes that would provide economic stability, security and opportunity for farmers and ranchers.

"The promised benefits of Freedom to Farm, the 1996 farm bill, have not been realized by independent producers," said Sims. "Declining commodity prices and producer incomes under this program have resulted in three years of supplemental assistance at a cost of $21.7 billion--and this figure keeps rising. There is no need to wait any longer to act on legislation that will provide a more effective and predictable counter-cyclical economic safety net for independent farmers and ranchers."

Sims outlined three major policy areas that are crucial to a successful, sustainable agriculture industry. 1) The issue of market concentration and integration in agriculture must be examined. New policies must be implemented to ensure that a competitive marketplace is available to all producers. 2) Agricultural trade policy must accommodate a broad range of priorities including market access and fair competition. 3) U.S. agricultural programs for crops, dairy and livestock must be revised to provide an effective safety net during periods when market returns are inadequate.

"The concentration of market power among a few highly integrated domestic or multi-national firms poses a serious threat to the benefits of a private, competitive marketplace," Sims continued. "U.S. antitrust laws must be enhanced and enforced so that market competition increases rather than decreases."

Sims pointed out that even with incentives to participate in public and private risk management programs, the need for additional economic and production loss assistance has not been eliminated. Reductions in regulations failed to bring about reduced costs for producers, and reduced price competition for export markets never materialized.

"While the 1996 farm bill fulfilled in part the desire of some to unilaterally reduce or curtail the public role in U.S. production agriculture, the legislation showed little regard or understanding of the future consequences of such actions if the unique, favorable conditions of 1996 changed," added Sims.

Texas Farmers Union, P.O. Box 738, Sweetwater, Tx 79556