MEMPHIS — National Cotton Council Chairman James Echols indicated today that the farm policy document developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture is a welcome effort by the agency to define the agricultural sector, discuss its place in domestic and world markets and consider U.S. agricultural policy from a strategic standpoint.

Echols also stated that the farm bill already developed by the House Agriculture Committee, H.R. 2646, is consistent with the broad objectives set out in the USDA document. He noted that USDA's document focuses on such critical issues as offering a safety net in times of financial hardship due to factors beyond the producer's control; balancing support between commodity, conservation, trade and infrastructure; promoting competitiveness; and adopting flexibility and cropping choice as hallmarks of U.S. policy.

“These critical areas were addressed by the House Agriculture Committee in H.R. 2646,” Echols said.

He noted that, “the USDA document places great emphasis on market orientation, competitiveness and effective marketing. It also tries to come to grips with the diversity that exists in agriculture, from small farms to large, efficient commercial enterprises — both of which must compete domestically and in an international arena replete with subsidies.”

Although the document does not contain many specifics on particular farm policy options, Echols stated that “its principles are consistent with the solid work already done in the House Agriculture Committee on new farm policy. The Administration's statement contributes to the overall effort to return U.S. agriculture to financial health.”

“The farm policy book shows that USDA is working to help Congress construct a solid foundation for future farm policy in the United States,” Echols said. “It indicates that the Administration is committed to constructing meaningful, effective long-term policy that enables farmers to weather the current economic crisis and continue to provide competitively priced food and fiber to U.S. and foreign consumers.”

The National Cotton Council of America's (NCC) mission is to ensure the ability of all U.S. cotton industry segments to compete effectively and profitably in the raw cotton, oilseed and manufactured product markets at home and abroad.