Major Candidates on Agriculture

By George Grow

This is the VOA Special English AGRICULTURE REPORT.

The American presidential election is next Tuesday, November seventh. Studies show the two main candidates for President have almost equal support. Vice President Al Gore and Texas Governor George W. Bush disagree about many issues. Today, we examine their positions on issues important to American farmers.

One such issue is the long-term farm policy of the federal government. Congress and President Clinton approved the current policy four years ago. Mr. Gore notes a huge amount of emergency farm aid was needed since then. He says he wants to change the government's policy.

The Vice President says farm policy should be based on what he calls countercyclical income assistance. He says this would reduce sudden changes in yearly earnings of farmers. He also says the government should support private programs that protect farmers against losses. Mr. Gore supports a plan to increase government aid to farmers as crop prices or production fall.

George W. Bush has praised parts of the current farm policy, such as the end of supply control programs. He says this has permitted farmers to plant crops based on market forces. However, he says more should be done to help fight farm losses caused by bad weather or closed markets.

Governor Bush says he wants to end barriers to American agriculture. And, he says he will negotiate new agreements to open markets to American products.

Mr. Gore says he has the international experience and knowledge to expand agricultural trade. He says he will negotiate deep reductions in taxes on agricultural products and other trade barriers.

The Vice President supports biotechnology - the development of new crops and new ways to grow existing crops. He says biotechnology products can improve farm production and reduce the need for chemicals to kill harmful insects. And, he believes biotechnology can help reduce world hunger and guarantee food security.

Mr. Bush says the United States must support projects that will lead to new goods for export. He criticizes the European Union for banning products made by biotechnology. He says the United States should not let the E-U bar technology used by American farmers.

This VOA Special English AGRICULTURE REPORT was written by George Grow.

Voice of America Special English