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Release No. 0301.05 Contact: USDA Press Office (202) 720-4623 - page 7 / 53





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           The fourth goal relates to something that the President even mentioned in his comments, and that's conservation.  We believe that the farmers are the first and the best stewards of the land.  How are our conservation programs working, and what have we learned from them? The fifth area is rural economic development.  Farming in rural America should be synonymous.  Whatever we do in farm policy should aid our rural communities.  One of the things that was mentioned by Senator Coleman in my confirmation hearing was the whole idea that the infrastructure, water and sewer etcetera, for rural communities is becoming very, very dated, and what can we do there? And then the final question relates to the expansion of markets and research, and what areas should we be paying attention to, to make sure that the ethanol of tomorrow is presently being worked on, or the biodiesel product of tomorrow is presently being worked on? In conclusion ladies and gentlemen, I'm interested in hearing your thoughts.  I will tell you pretty much during the next three hours I'm going to sit and listen and take some notes.  I'm not going to be the one that takes all the time for the Farm Forum here.  I want to hear from you. And so with that I'll turn the microphone back to our moderator, and we're ready to go. MODERATOR:  Okay, and I'll just add a point, Mr. Secretary.  The very first secretary of Agriculture I interviewed as a farm broadcaster was Earl Butz.  And I've known every secretary very well since, and the qualities that you see behind the scenes as a farm reporter is, is that person a genuine person, does that person--he or she--care about what they're doing, and is that person really talking about agriculture from the heart?  And you can see that, when you're a reporter, in how they treat other people. And I tell you what-- this is the real deal right here.  Secretary Johanns is a gentleman, he treats people with respect, and he cares about agriculture.  And we really do appreciate that, and we appreciate you being here.  So -- [Applause.] We have a good one here. Okay.  The rules of the game.  We have six questions that all deal with the future of the Farm Bill that we're addressing today.  The questions are:   How should farm policy address any unintended consequence that discourage the next generation of farmers from entering production agriculture? How should farm policy be designed to maximize U.S. competitiveness and our country's ability to effectively compete in global markets?

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