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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release June 23, 1998
               Transcript of President Clinton's Remarks 
             in a Radio Actuality on Agricultural Research, 
               Extension and Education Reform Act of 1998

Today, I signed into law a new bill to help expand opportunity for American farmers. The Agricultural Research Act will put funding for crop insurance on a sure footing for the future, and boost investment on agricultural research and rural development.

After Congress phased out federal farm price supports, it became more essential for American farmers to sell grains, meats, fruits and vegetables to markets around the world. And today, products from one of every three acres planted in America are sold abroad. Thanks to cutting edge research, strong food safety standards and innovations in biotechnology, our farmers enjoy advantages over their competitors around the world in many sectors. In fact, American farmers have become so productive and so advanced that agriculture should be considered another high-tech industry. By strengthening investment in research and technology, this bill will help our farmers retain that competitive edge so they can export more of what they grow and raise. But to secure the success of U.S. farmers in the global marketplace, we must do more.

That's why we're fighting hard to tear down unfair trade barriers, to stabilize Asian markets for our products, and to make sure that sanctions do not unfairly penalize American farmers. I have asked the World Trade Organization to take an aggressive approach to reducing tariffs and subsidies on agricultural products and to develop better scientific-based rules to govern that trade. We're also fighting to enforce our trade agreements and have won critical agricultural disputes, including the European Union's restrictions on hormone grown beef and greater access for pork in the Phillippines. We will continue to use every tool at our disposal to ensure that agreements made are agreements kept.

And I will push Congress to give the IMF the resources it needs to help stabilize the economies of Asia, which are such big markets for American farm products. Finally, we need to make sure that our sanctions policy furthers our foreign policy goals without hurting our farmers. That's why I support legislation that ensures that U.S. wheat will not be the unintended victim of an important non-proliferation law. Our policy has been and will continue to be that food should not be used as a weapon. We will resist any action that would lead to a de facto grain embargo.

American farmers can continue to compete and win in the global marketplace. To make sure that they do, I will continue to fight to make sure they are given a fair chance to build a better future for themselves and their families.