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Thornberry seeks extension of farm bill

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Mac Thornberry of Texas says it would be unfair to our nation's agriculture producers to write a new farm bill in the midst of ongoing international trade negotiations. Today, Thornberry filed legislation to extend the current farm bill until the Doha round of World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations is complete.

"Our nation's farmers and their lenders should not be asked to operate under rules that keep changing. We should get fairer global trading rules in place first before we write the next farm bill," said Thornberry.

The current farm bill was approved in 2002, and many of its provisions are scheduled to expire in 2007. Congress has begun preliminary work on the next farm bill. But, unless the Doha process can be completed before the current farm bill expires, Congress will be attempting to write a new farm bill without a clear understanding of the trade conditions that the new WTO agreement will create. Thornberry wants to prevent the possibility that a new farm bill could wind up putting American farmers at a competitive disadvantage when new international trade rules are later established.

Under H.R. 4775, the 2002 farm bill will remain in effect while the Doha negotiations continue. The bill will also keep the current farm bill in place for at least one crop year after Congress has approved legislation to implement any eventual Doha agreement.

"I believe extending the current farm bill will help our trade negotiators by making the point that we are insisting on a more level playing field with regard to market access, domestic support, and export assistance. Producers I talk to have said they like the 2002 farm bill's structure. We should be careful about making changes until we know what will result from the Doha negotiations," Thornberry said.

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