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Release No. 0301.05 Contact: USDA Press Office (202) 720-4623 - page 52 / 53





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whole day. I also want to say thank you to Collin Peterson, Congressman Collin Peterson.  I made reference to the fact when we started today that you are well-situated here because you've got two congressmen on the stage who are going to have an impact on the Farm Bill. And I mean that very, very sincerely.  These two individuals will have a major impact in terms of the House version of the Farm Bill. The Congressman's observations are very true.  In the end it is coalitions that build the Farm Bill.  It is a coalition of ag groups that move a Farm Bill from discussion stage to policy discussion on to a written document, hearings, on to the Floor, surviving amendments and then hopefully ultimately getting to the President's desk. Your comments were excellent today.  I think about the gentleman who got up and talked about the sugar program, and I complimented him.  Now we've had a heck of a debate recently about trade and sugar, but his observation was right on target.  His observation was that the program when you think about it raises the question of, where do you go from here, where do you grow that program? Because it is truly based upon import regulation-- in other words, doing everything we can to control that import side.  And his acknowledgement that trade is really a part of life because 27 percent of our receipts come from trade was a pretty profound statement.  And so he's raising the issue, where do we go from here?

          The dairy people, I don't know if this was done for my benefit but I will tell you, ladies and gentlemen, we have had more dairy people at this Forum than any one yet and probably any forum that we will have in the future.  As a former son of a dairy farmer, well I guess still son of a dairy farmer, that was appreciated.  It was good to hear from you. Last and final comment.  I was asked at a media briefing just before we walked out here, so when will this result in an actual document?  Well, that's a ways down the road.  We started early because we wanted to get input across the nation.  That's probably going to take us at least the rest of the year.  We may even be doing a couple of forums after the first of the year It's in that stage that we will be very, very much involved with the House and Senate in terms of what the next Farm Bill looks like.  Mention has been made that in previous instances the secretaries played a pretty passive role.  I think I can safely tell you that I don't intend to do that. I have some very, very strong ideas about agriculture and the future of farming, and what we can do for these young people that were here today.  And I'm going to do everything I can to advocate for their future and for the future of agriculture. How many were in FFA when you were in high school?  I was.  I was happy to be in FFA.  Do you remember you started out with the Pledge –“I believe in the future of farming?” I think now it reads, “I believe in the future of agriculture.” You know, I do.  I

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