Transcript of Remarks with Acting Agriculture Secretary Chuck Conner and Arthur Yap, Secretary of Agriculture of the Philippines Regarding Beef Trade
Washington D.C., November 16, 2007
SEC. CHUCK CONNER: I have enjoyed the opportunity to meet and to visit with Secretary Yap of the Philippines, and we welcome you, Mr. Secretary, to the Department of Agriculture. We've had a nice opportunity to share some areas of mutual concern with the Philippines and the United States and talk about areas that we can prioritize here at USDA to assist the Philippines in exporting some of their products to the United States, a good discussion.
I will tell you as well that I am thrilled to say that the Secretary has also personally delivered a message to me of the Philippines willingness to move to international standards in terms of beef product trade in that country. As all of you know, this is an area where we have struggled mightily since 2003 to reestablish commerce and beef trade around this country. We are pleased, thrilled, Mr. Secretary that the Philippines have agreed to trade by international OIE-based standards. I thank you for that.
And I will tell you also that my message to the rest of the globe is, we expect them to follow suit from what the Philippines have done, and that is simply trade according to the standards that have been laid out for safe beef product trade in this world, standards that everyone has agreed to live by, and again we appreciate your willingness to live by those standards. I encourage others to do the same.
Mr. Secretary, would you like to make a brief statement?
SEC. ARTHUR YAP: I welcome this visit to the United States, and I thank the United States Department of Agriculture for the warm welcome that my delegation has received, and yes my visit, this visit was supposed to be made for next year. But I was invited here by the World Wildlife Fund to make a presentation about the Coral Triangle. So I did take them up on that invitation, and used the opportunity to hold substantive meetings with Ambassador Schwab and the United States Department of Agriculture.
What I can say is, the relationship between the United States and the Philippines is strong at this point in time, and we would like to move forward in all aspects of our bilateral relations.
SEC. CONNER: Are there any questions for the Secretary or me at this point?
REPORTER: (audio break) Off mike question about Senate cloture vote.
SEC. CONNER: Bill, I want to be as clear on this point as I possibly can. You know this agency has been working for a better farm bill for two and a half years, starting with our Farm Bill listening sessions. We unveiled our detailed proposals, along with the legislative language, early this year, our proposals in January, nearly 11 months ago. We did that for the sole purpose of getting a better farm bill in on time and done so that producers would know the rules of the game going forward. We have been pressing ever since, unveiling our proposals for prompt action for a new reform-minded farm bill, and that has been the case throughout this process.
I will tell you, that is the case today, Bill. My message to the Senate is, we want a new farm bill, we want a reform-minded farm bill. We encouraged them to stay at work and get the farm bill done. We want to work with them to get it done. Obviously we have identified that it needs a lot of work in order to have a farm bill that is honest in terms of its true cost, that does not raise taxes, that is reform-minded; but we want to get to that business of getting that done. I encouraged them to stay at it and to get a new farm bill completed in a timely way. And we want to work with them to achieve that objective.
SEC. CONNER: I believe there's still time, Bill. Obviously it requires a lot of work. I think it requires a commitment to get it done, requires working together in a bipartisan way which has been the history of the farm bill. But there is still time, and we encourage them to get it done.
SEC. CONNER: Okay? All right. I thank you all very much for coming. Mr. Secretary, thank you.