The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour

July 24, 1990, Tuesday Transcript #3822

LENGTH: 9505 words

HEADLINE: Down on the Farm; Costly Care; Lost in the Stars


1990 EBC & GWETA. All Rights Reserved, July 24, 1990



MR. LEHRER: Farmers and their subsidies is our lead story tonight. Both the House and the Senate are debating a new farm Bill and at the center of the debate are questions how much Government should pay in subsidies and to what farmers. Some argue that no subsidies should go to farmers earning more than a $100,000 a year after taxes and expenses. Others argue that the entire cost of

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the Subsidy program is too much. The Secretary of Agriculture Clayton Yeutter has said he will ask President Bush to veto any legislation he considers to expensive. And it is with the Secretary of Agriculture that we now begin. Mr. Secretary Welcome.

SEC. YEUTTER: Thank you Jim.

MR. LEHRER: How much is too much, Sir?

SEC. YEUTTER: Well that will be dependent on the Budget agreement Jim which we do not yet have. As you know we have a lot of people in leadership positions in the Congress and the White House who are negotiating a budget Summit. If we have the parameters of the Summit we can fit them in the farm Bill but now everyone is flying blind.

MR. LEHRER: So it is not so much a farm question as it is a budget question?

SEC. YEUTTER: It is and obviously agriculture is going to have to bear its share of the burden and appropriately should. You know we have about a 170 billion dollar budget deficit now that is going to have to go to 64 billion next year and then to zero under the Gramm/Rudman law in a couple of years and something has to give in that kind of scenario. My judgement is that even though this is painful for agriculture. Nobody likes to have their supports reduced. It is also important to agriculture because if we don't win the budget battle in this country we are going to have inflation that is very damaging to agriculture, my constituency. We are also going to have higher interest rates and farmers are big borrowers so they can lose heavily by having to pay more interest on their money.

MR. LEHRER: Budget problems aside are you and the President in favor of cutting farm subsidies as a general premise. In our judgement the level of farm subsidies must come down in any case as a result of the budget Summit. But even aside from the Budget Summit our judgment is that farmers have taken too large a share of their income from the Federal tax payer in recent years and that is just not healthy. That is not in the long term interest of farmers themselves. What we need to do instead of having that kind of role for the Government in agriculture. We need to expand demand and get farmers greater income in the marketplace. We can do that internationally by opening up markets, opening up export opportunities and hopefully we can even develop some new markets domestically for products. Things like alternative fuels for automobiles, ethanol and a fuel called EBE and plastics and a good number of other areas. We think that there is room for developing industrial demand of for farm products as well as developing export opportunities overseas. That gives farmers more of a chance of getting income from the market place. Every farmer that I know would rather do that then be on the Government dole.

MR. LEHRER: Are you in favor of eventually eliminating all farm subsidies?

SEC. YEUTTER: We probably are not going to be able to do that as a practical matter any time soon. If we can get the income levels out of the market place over time to permit that I think that would be magnificent. And I think farmers would support that.

MR. LEHRER: Why would that be magnificent?

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SEC. YEUTTER: Well simply because then they would lose their dependence on the Government and also on the whims on a Congress and an Executive Branch determining what that flow would be. If farmers can get adequate incomes in the market place so that they can provide good standards of living for their families they would rather do that than to have come back on bended knee for help. There is not much psychological reward for being dependent on the Government. Farmers that I know would rather do it in the market.

MR. LEHRER: But as you say as a practical matter you say that isn't going to happen?

SEC. YEUTTER: No it is a gradual proposition but we should get the process underway. In other words we should gradually reduce the amount of money coming from the American tax player to the American farmer and at the same time increase the income coming from the market place. That has happened over the last three years, Jim. Farm incomes are up now three years in a row even though the amount of federal financial support has gone down during that period. So we have proven in the last three years that we can generate more income from the marketplace. What we need to do is sustain that moment and keep that line going and I think that we can do that.

MR. LEHRER: Let's be specific here. Are there any particular subsidies on any particular products or crops that you are willing to eliminate now. If you had you way would eliminate now?

SEC. YEUTTER: We probably would not eliminate subsides from any of them. These needs to be a gradual transition process. In other words the safety net we have out there under these crops really needs to be reduce gradually as we increase the opportunities in the market place and as we convince our competitors in the world to reduce their safety nets and governmental involvement in agriculture. There are international competitive dimensions to all this too. So we are going to reform our agricultural system here we want to do that in lock step with some of our competitors who need to reform their systems because otherwise they will take our markets away from us internationally and we would have the worst of all worlds. But the fact is that we can do quite a bit in the way of reducing safety nets over the next decade say if we can have our competitors do likewise and we can begin on the farm Bill that is pending before Congress today.

MR. LEHRER: But you don't want the President to sign this Bill if it costs to much. Is that right?

SEC. YEUTTER: That is correct and today it costs to much. That is the Bills coming out of the two committees of Congress.

MR. LEHRER: How much too much?

SEC. YEUTTER: Both of them are several billion dollars over what the Congress calls its base line. That is present levels of expenditure. My judgement is that a Budget Summit will require the Agriculture Committees of the Congress and the Department of agriculture to bring our expenditure levels down below what is called the base line. But the fact is these Committees right now are substantially above the base line.

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MR. LEHRER: There is also a proposal in Congress to limit subsidies to farmers. In other words any farmer who makes a $100,000 a year after taxes and expenses could not get a subsidy. What is the Administrations position on that?

SEC. YEUTTER: The intent here is to try and target the benefits of these programs to the smaller farmers of the nation. Conceptionally that is sound. We ought to do what we can to help viable family farmers. I don't like the small, large distinction. I think that what we want to do is help family operations to be really viable and that size is going to vary from crop to crop and from one section of the country to the other. So conceptionally that proposal is a sound one. However designing a program to achieve that is another matter. My judgement is that the proposals that have emerged in the Congress are to simplistic to achieving that objective. Government costs might actually go in the other direction. In effect cost the Government money.

MR. LEHRER: Why are they simplistic?

SEC. YEUTTER: Well because you have to be able to administer then and when one deals with factors like people's income tax returns it deals with factors like confidentiality and also that one has to look back retrospectively. One doesn't have to file income taxes until April 15th on last years income. So how does one revise last years farm programs on the basis of last years income on taxes that are filed on April 15th of this year. And then beyond that it is simply a question of whether it would be easy for farmers to circumvent that by dividing their units in a particular way as they often have in the past and avoiding the intent of the legislation completely.

MR. LEHRER: If that is in the farm Bill will you suggest to the President that he veto it?

SEC. YEUTTER: That would not be grounds for veto. There are a lot of other elements in the Bill that are more troublesome to us. For example the temptation in a election year for Congress to want to raise price supports and loan rates for farmers. That scores them lots of points out in the Country but the fact is that is short term beneficial and long term detrimental. Every time we do this and we did this in the early 80s, Jim. We create a price umbrella for the rest of the world and all those other producers in the rest of the World say marvelous the Americans are shooting themselves in the foot again and let's plant because we are going to take their markets away because that is what happened in the 80s. Our exports plummeted, farm incomes plummeted. We had thousands of farmers go into bankruptcy. We don't have the intelligence to avoid making that mistake again. That becomes a big temptation in an election year.

MR. LEHRER: Mr. Secretary thank you.

SEC. YEUTTER: Your welcome Jim.

MR. LEHRER: Robin.

MR. MAC NEIL: We are joined now by two members of Congress and two farm experts. Charles Schumer, Democrat from New York is one of the leaders of the Coalition for Common Sense Agriculture Policy. A Groups of Urban and Conservative politicians who are challenging the farm Bill on the House floor. Charles Stenholm is a Democrat from Texas and a Member of the House Agriculture Committee. Mr. Stenholm also owns a 2500 acre farm in Texas. Both men join us

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from a studio on Capitol Hill. James Bovard is a Analyst with the CATO Institute, a free market think tank in Washington. He is also an Author of a recent book Farm Fiasco. Willis Eken is President of the Minnesota Farmers Union which represents 15,000 family farms in the State. Mr. Eken also owns a 1200 acre farm. Back to Capitol Hill and you Congressman Schumer. Let's take some of the issues that your coalition is pushing one at a time. You just heard the Secretary say that the plan to limit aid to farmers with incomes below a $100,000 is simplistic, it just wouldn't work, it is impossible to administer?

REP. SCHUMER: Well I know that has always been a problem. Every one agrees that if a methodology could be devised it would be the right thing to do. That is to say to the very few wealthy farmers. There are only about 20,000 affected by our proposals that they can make it on their own. If you have adjusted gross income over a $100,000 whether you be a plumber or a salesman or anything else you don't need a Government subsidy.

MR. MAC NEIL: If you could do it how much would it save the tax payers?

REP. SCHUMER: It would save close to a billion dollars a year.These farmers are getting a whole lot of money and most of them virtually all of them are not family farmers. According to the OMB, the income of these 20,000 farmers that we would cut out only four percent of it comes from farm income. But what I was going to say in answer to Secretary Yeutter in terms of technicalities we have worked very hard with OMB who speaks for the Administration I believe and is supporting our proposal to come up with a very tight definition. We have run them by the OMB, IRS and others. So I think that we have over come the technical problems. A $100,000 is a lot of money and I believe that we should have farm programs to help the family farmer but not big agri business or the gentleman farmer who has a lot of other income and just farms for a hobby and is getting a subsidy right now.

MR. MAC NEIL: Congressman Stenholm when this comes up on the floor tomorrow as I gather it will you are going to vote against it, Right?

REP. STENHOLM: Yes I will vote against it because contrary to my good friend Mr. Schumer he does not have all the bugs worked out of it and it will not work. The Secretary rightfully pointed out that there are some technical difficulties with administering it. In order for it to work we have to change totally our farm program system.

MR. MAC NEIL: If it could be made to work, if you could be persuaded that it could work would you be in favor of it philosophically?

REP. STENHOLM: Well the House Agriculture Committee will be offering an amendment tomorrow that will take one more step in the direction that Charlie wants to go because I firmly agree that the Federal Government should not be involved in subsidizing the super size farmer and is continuing to move to try and find a limitation that can be administered and that will work. But Charlie goes a little to far with his amendment and we hope we can bring him a little bit more in our direction and we will come towards him and we will try to get a program that will work.

MR. MAC NEIL: Mr. Bovard, do you think that a way could be found to limit support for, by an income level?

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JAMES BOVARD, Author, "Farm Fiasco": Well, I think if they worked hard enough they could craft something along that line, because it's possible to do that for food subsidies right now. Why can't you do it for farmers?

MR. MAC NEIL: You mean a means test kind of thing?

MR. BOVARD: Yes, but it seems to me like that's missing somewhat the fundamental problem, and the fundamental problem is that these programs are supposed to be a safety net are actually a ball and chain on the American farmers. The U.S. farm policy is like trying to compete against Japanese high tech industry by paying IBM not to make computers. We're shutting down 60 million acres of farm land this year. That's devastating the American competitiveness. In 1988, the U.S. shut down almost as much wheat land as the Europeans that planted the wheat.

MR. MAC NEIL: Mr. Bovard, can I interrupt? We're going to come back to your idea, to eliminate it all in a moment. I just want to go through some of these amendments that are being offered on the floor by the coalition and I'll give you a chance to give your basic idea to eliminate all supports in a moment and go to a free market. Mr. Eken, what do you think about limiting aid to farmers of a certain income level and could it work? Is it a good idea and could it work?

WILLIS EKEN, Minnesota Farmers Union: We have a philosophical problem with the idea that gets into establishing a means test which we don't think gets the basic concepts of what should be in the farm program which is to support the units of production in the farmer's operation.

MR. MAC NEIL: So you think rich or poor should get government money?

MR. EKEN: We would be supportive of as Rep. Stenholm said some other ways to target the impact of the farm program. But when it comes to the present amendment that's before the Congress, we're opposed to that, and part of it is philosophical and part of it is also the fact that we think it will be very difficult to administer.

MR. MAC NEIL: Congressman Schumer, let's go to another, much publicized aspect of your amendments. You want to abolish or support, start reducing supports for certain crops, particularly sugar and peanuts to take two very well known examples. Now you lost the vote today on your amendment on sugar, that's correct, right?

REP. CHARLES SCHUMER, [D] New York: That is correct.

MR. MAC NEIL: But you're still going to be pushing the one on peanuts. What philosophically is the reason? Why should supports for particular crops be reduced? What do you hope to save by it?

REP. SCHUMER: Well, those two areas are both, sugar is particularly helping the consumer. Right now the world price for sugar is about 10 to 11 cents. The price, the support is 18 cents, and the world price, the market price, is 7 cents lower, and therefore, the average consumer would be saving lots of money on a basic commodity, $600 million a year, sugar, if they weren't supported. And so it seems to me that on a place like sugar, where the United States is so far above the market, not terribly efficient, we're much more efficient in many

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areas, in grains and other places, and there the Europeans are the ones who keep us out, but in place like sugar, it's the consumer who's paying and it doesn't make much sense. The amendment on the floor didn't try to wipe it out. It simply wanted a reduction of 2 cents, down from 18 to 16, but it did lose. There was a very, very powerful lobby and coalition against it, and it lost. I don't think that's indicative of the other programs that'll come up. Sugar had the strongest lobbying effort against it.

MR. MAC NEIL: Since you've lost on sugar, talk about peanuts for a moment.

REP. SCHUMER: Well, peanuts is a funny one in the sense that you don't have to be a peanut farmer at all. It's sort of an entitlement. It's almost like the feudal days in ancient France, where if you somehow years and years ago got an allotment for peanuts and you now are a big city dweller, you still can sell that allotment to a farmer and then that farmer can grow peanuts. So it's enriching a random group of people who happened to exist a while ago, and again it doesn't make most of the, what we're trying to do is say that the programs that don't make any economic sense at all, we are for helping the family farmer, particularly given the vicissitudes of world prices and everything like that, but the ones that have so out lived their economic usefulness should be gone.

MR. MAC NEIL: Has the peanut subsidy outlives it usefulness, Mr. Stenholm?

REP. CHARLES STENHOLM, [D] Texas: No, I don't think it has, and I would point out I happen to recognize both quota holders, the feudal folks that he's talking about, as well as non-quota holders. And we have designed a program. We've brought the cost to zero cost to the Treasury in the peanut program and we've designed a program that's working in the real world, and I would suggest that the major reason that Charlie lost on the sugar amendment today, or Charlie and those that voted with him, is that more and more members are beginning to recognize that the farm bill is a consumer benefit. The sugar program cost 16 cents in 1981. We moved it up to 18 cents in 1985, and we on the House Agriculture Committee have frozen it for 10 years. Therefore, we continue to ask the question how far do we have to go to satisfy the so-called consumer expert.

MR. MAC NEIL: But how does it benefit the American consumer to pay 7 or more cents or more per pound of sugar than he would pay if he paid the world price?

REP. STENHOLM: This is one of those things that's got to happen before you can prove it. The last time we eliminated the sugar program, which is really this world price of sugar that everybody talks about, which is really the dump price of the European Economic Community, that world price that is 10 cents today, went to 50 cents when we eliminated the program. There is a need for stabilization in the world. If the Secretary and our trade negotiators are successful in eliminating all subsidies, then this is one member of Congress that would go with it. But until all subsidies, in fact, are eliminated, we have to have programs like the ones we're talking about to keep a level playing field.

MR. MAC NEIL: Mr. Bovard.

REP. SCHUMER: Maybe we need stability, but let's stabilize it at around the world price, not at 7 cents higher than the world price.

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MR. MAC NEIL: Let's get Mr. Bovard's view on whether it helps consumers to have subsidies for peanuts and sugar.

MR. BOVARD: Well, I've never understood how it helps consumers by pegging the U.S. prices at double or triple the world price. The peanut program is costing U.S. consumers three or four hundred million dollars a year and the House Agriculture Committee came out with the report and said that the reason that peanuts are so expensive is because of the advertising costs of hiring movie stars to do ads for peanut butter.

MR. MAC NEIL: I read today's -- let me interrupt to translate that $400 million figure -- I read that it's 40 cents on the average jar of peanuts. Is that an accurate figure?

MR. BOVARD: Oh, I haven't heard that figure, but perhaps, I'm not sure what size of jar of peanut butter you're talking about. That could be accurate.

MR. MAC NEIL: And, Mr. Eken, what do you think about the subsidies for peanuts and sugar?

MR. EKEN: Well, I get troubled by those that assume that any time you reduce the price to the farmer on a commodity, in this case it was sugar or peanuts, you're going to see kind of reflection back to the consumer in terms of some kind of savings in their pocket book. An example on the sugar, if you take a candy bar today, 1 cent of that goes for the sugar that's part of that candy bar. If we go to the sweetener in pop, 2 cents out of that price of that can of beverage is really related to the farmer's part of it, and I don't believe for one minute if we reduce the cost of sugar through the reduction of the subsidy or the farm program that you're going to see it reflected back to the consumer when you've got those minute costs as part of that final product the consumer uses.

MR. MAC NEIL: Mr. Schumer, do you want a final comment there?

REP. SCHUMER: Well, what I would say very simply is that a third of the sugar bought is in bags of sugar. That's not 1 percent or 2 percent. That's the whole product. The consumer would be paying a lot less for that. In both of these industries, peanuts and confections, soft drinks, there's a great deal of competition, and this is one of the areas where the consumer does benefit from reduced costs, and so I think that again while, you know, I understand keeping farmers in business, but why keep someone who has a peanut subsidy, why keep a sugar producer who's inefficient in business if it's going to cost the consumer more?

MR. MAC NEIL: Mr. Bovard, let's go now to your contention at the Kato Institute that all farm support should be abolished and this country should move totally to a free market agriculture. Obviously that would save a lot of money to the taxpayer, but why would that be better than the present system?

MR. BOVARD: Well, you know, there's all this talk about farm programs helping farmers, but it's basically like the old joke, the guy saying I'm here from Washington, I'm going to help you. The farm programs increase farmers' cost of production 20, 30, sometimes 40 percent. They're a huge ball and chain on American competitiveness. We've got dozens of conflicting farm programs. We've got programs that drive up farm prices. We've got programs that drive down

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prices. There are export subsidies that have made U.S. wheat cheaper in Moscow than in St. Louis, and U.S. barley cheaper in Baghdad than in New York. How that's in the U.S. interest I don't know, and there's all these contradictory programs. No one ever sits down and straightens them out, because there's these target prices that pay farmers, encourage farmers to over plant, then the government forces them to idle a certain percentage of acreage. That's just a, these are counter balancing federal programs. It makes no sense, a pure contradiction.

MR. MAC NEIL: How would you eliminate them? You just wipe it all out, starting at one year, and reduce it so much, and just eventually over a period take them out altogether?

MR. BOVARD: For some of them, yeah. For others, I'd wipe out overnight. The sugar program, there's this talk about well it would help consumers or not, but the sugar program since 1980 has destroyed more jobs than the total number of sugar farmers in the U.S.


MR. BOVARD: Well, there's about 11,000 sugar farmers and since 1980, there's been nine sugar refineries closed down and quite a few food manufacturing factories that have moved overseas. That's cost the U.S. about 15,000 jobs. So the sugar program has probably wrecked more jobs than the entire number of sugar farmers.

MR. MAC NEIL: Mr. Eken, how do you respond to the idea that you'll get rid of it all not only to rationalize conflicting programs but to make American agriculture more competitive in exports?

MR. EKEN: I would suggest that American agriculture today is the most competitive business that we have in the United States. If you look at the record of production in this country, today we as farmers produce food that costs the consumers less of their disposable spending income than anywhere else in the world. 10.4 percent is the latest figures that I've seen where our consumers pay out of their disposable income for food. I just picked up the paper today as I was coming out on the airline and in that U.S. News & World Report, and there was a little snapshot there talking about the exports that have taken place in the last five months. American agricultural exports were the leading exports in the five month period from the United States, $7.6 billion. And so I think we've got a tremendous record of using a farm program that is added for stability in our American agricultural structure, allowed farmers to be the entrepreneurs to produce this food, the cheapest for consumers anywhere in the world, also leading U.S. exports as you look at the export market over the last five months.

MR. MAC NEIL: Congressman Schumer, do you go along with Mr. Bovard in thinking it should all be eliminated and go to a free market agriculture?

REP. SCHUMER: No, I don't think it should all be eliminated because agriculture is unique. First, we are dependent on a food supply, but second, you know, you can have weather and other conditions that wipe people out if there weren't any supports at all in terms of drought, in terms of a drop in the world price, et cetera. But I think we ought to aim the programs at the people who really need help. You know, everyone gets up and talks about the family

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farmer, and then when we propose an amendment that says, okay, knock out the subsidies to the very wealthy and aim them at the family farmer who might need some help from time to time, everyone opposes it, because they say it's sort of a seamless web, et cetera. 3.6 percent of the farmers get 40 percent of the subsidies. That's trickle down if I ever heard it, and it means that the program is not working efficiently, that we could get far more bang for the buck, we could reduce the subsidies greatly, still provide the stability, help the consumer by supporting amendments such as the one that Congressman Armey and I are introducing tomorrow.

MR. MAC NEIL: Congressman Stenholm, I gather you would not go along with Mr. Bovard?

REP. STENHOLM: No, as we say at home, that dog won't hunt. I mean, that was such a, it's a joke, his opinion, and here I say from the standpoint of the agricultural policy of this country, I know how Rodney Dangerfield feels, because we seem to get no respect whatsoever for the fact that we provide the American people the most abundant food supply, the best quality, the safest food supply, at the lowest cost of any other system found anywhere in the world. Now how can that be as big a failure as Mr. Bovard suggests that it is? Obviously we've got to be doing something right.

MR. MAC NEIL: Well, let's give Mr. Bovard a chance to come back on that. Mr. Bovard.

MR. BOVARD: Well, there's all these people floating this number of 10.4 percent out there, but the fact of it is food is cheaper in Australia than it is here, because they've got more of a free market than we do and the U.S. International Trade Commission did a study a few years ago to try and quantify what the tariff would be for our dairy import quotas. The ITC, U.S. government agencies conclude, our dairy import quotas, we have the equivalent of 170 percent tariff on cheese imports, a 190 percent tariff on butter, and 290 percent on dry milk imports. How that's helping consumers, I don't know. Those are Smoot Hawley type tariffs.

MR. MAC NEIL: Jim, why don't you take this over here?

MR. LEHRER: Yes, Congressman Stenholm, you wanted to respond to that?

REP. STENHOLM: You might can pick out one part of one country that would disprove me, but even I would argue the facts on Australia. The point again on dairy products, and again I would make the point if we can get a good GATT agreement, General Agreement on Trades & Tariffs, in which we can multilaterally, not unilaterally reduce the tariffs, we all would be better off. I would be the first to admit that, but that's not the real world and we who develop the agricultural policy of this country have to live in the real world and develop it and I'm glad to hear my friend, Charlie, acknowledge that some of the thing that we're doing are beneficial, and that's where he and I do not disagree near as much as I would with Mr. Bovard because he's not living in the real world. He's living in the textbook world of an economy, and I can't believe anybody pays his salary.

REP. SCHUMER: But I would say one other thing if I might, the talk about food being cheap -- well, you know, we certainly produce a lot of food here, but you ask the average person who goes into the supermarket each week and watches the

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prices go up, up, up, up. Something is wrong, because food in the supermarket is increasing. Now I know that it may not be the farmer that's doing it, it may be the middle man or whatever, but I don't think the American consumer sees food as very cheap and I think they see some inflationary pressure on food.

REP. STENHOLM: Bread is very important and 10 years ago today, wheat was selling to the farmer for $3.99. Today it's 2.65. Now if there's a price, the price of bread has gone up, no one can blame the United States farmer.

MR. LEHRER: Mr. Eken.

MR. EKEN: That was going to be my point, Rep. Stenholm, also, in that I've farmed since 1949, and we're selling commodities, unit of production commodities into the market today at a price that was lower than it was a good number of years ago. I challenge any other industry within the United States to have that kind of a track record.

MR. LEHRER: Mr. Bovard.

MR. BOVARD: Well, the fundamental fact in judging how Congress manages agriculture is that these congressmen are shutting down 60 million acres of American farm land every year to drive up grain prices. That's suicide for our exports, that's a terrible waste of resources, and according to USDA, that wipes out 300,000 jobs every year in the U.S. 60 million acres shut down because of Congress's farm policy. It's insanity.

MR. LEHRER: Insanity, Congressman Stenholm?

REP. STENHOLM: Yeah. It's kind of like saying Ford Motor Company ought to keep producing Ford cars because they can make 10 billion cars a year. If there's no market for it, you should not produce it, and we have to recognize that the agricultural market is an international market, and it's not something that we can unilaterally do in this country and make work. We've got to do it multilaterally.

MR. EKEN: Mr. Bovard is coming into to Never Never Land, and just going back to statistics I pulled out of U.S. News & World Report today, agricultural exports the first five months of this year, 17.6 billion, the next airlines and parts, 12.1 billion, electrical machinery, office machinery. We must be doing something right if we're leading the exports in terms of dealing with this deficit that we have in our import-export trade, and it's agriculture that's leading the charge. I think he's --

REP. SCHUMER: I would just say one thing before everyone gangs up on Mr. Bovard which is that, yeah, we are doing some things right, but we're also doing some things wrong. And one of the problems is when some of those wrong things are pointed out there are other kinds of things. We pay big companies to advertise overseas, a quarter of our grain subsidy program goes to Iraq. Whenever you point any of those things out, the agricultural community sort of rounds up the covered wagons and says no, there's no change at all. And what we're trying to do in our coalition is inject some outside view apart from the agriculture committees and Mr. Eken and the farm groups which represent the farmer and represent them very well and very ably and say, there are some interests that ought to be represented as well.

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MR. LEHRER: Mr. Bovard.

MR. BOVARD: Okay. Congressman Stenholm says the U.S. should not go it alone, but then why is the U.S. the only nation that's paying its farmers not to plant? The U.S. shuts down 60 million acres of farm land. That's one of the biggest subsidies the European and Australian farmers receive. The U.S. government shutting down American farm land, that's insanity.

MR. LEHRER: Let me ask finally, Congressman Schumer, just the politics of this, there are definitely clearly more consumers than there are farmers, why are the farmers, why do you get shot down as you did today, why are you all probably going to lose on all of this, why is Mr. Bovard considered so out of it in other words?

REP. SCHUMER: It's an up hill fight for a whole bunch of reasons. Part of it is that people have sympathy for the farmer, and most, the way Congress works, the agriculture committee derives the policy and this is the first time people not on the committee are looking at it. I don't think most of my colleagues know that a quarter of subsidy programs go to Iraq. I don't think they realize or we're trying to educate them so much of the subsidy goes to the wealthy farmer, that's No. 1. No. 2, they sort of pull everyone in. The AFL-CIO is lobbying against us because, you know, they and the farmers sort of work together on other kinds of things.

REP. STENHOLM: Called jobs.

REP. SCHUMER: And change is difficult, particularly when you have a program that has been entrenched and it takes a while, but I think we'll win eventually. I think we'll win a few of these amendments tomorrow and I think we'll win more and more as the years go on.

MR. LEHRER: Do you agree with him, Congressman Stenholm, you all are going to gradually lose the power that you have, the farm interests?

REP. STENHOLM: No, I don't agree that we're going to gradually lose it, because I think we're doing a pretty good job. I concur with Charlie, and I don't maintain that the ag committee alone has the sovereign right to make the determination. In fact, I welcome Charlie and we work together on that. We disagree on some issues, but in the end result, I think we're getting better agricultural policy.

MR. LEHRER: All right.

REP. SCHUMER: And Charlie has been very fair, no question about it.

MR. LEHRER: All right. We're out of our time. Gentlemen, thank you very much.

MR. MAC NEIL: Still to come on the Newshour, rationing health care and pictures from outer space.