[Federal Register: February 6, 2001 (Volume 66, Number 25)]
[Page 9064-9065]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access []

                                                Federal Register

This section of the FEDERAL REGISTER contains documents other than rules 
or proposed rules that are applicable to the public. Notices of hearings 
and investigations, committee meetings, agency decisions and rulings, 
delegations of authority, filing of petitions and applications and agency 
statements of organization and functions are examples of documents 
appearing in this section.


[[Page 9064]]


Farm Service Agency

President's Commission on Improving Economic Opportunity in 
Communities Dependent on Tobacco Production While Protecting Public 

AGENCY: Farm Service Agency, USDA.

ACTION: Notice of preliminary report publication, request for comments, 
and notice of meeting.


SUMMARY: Executive Order No. 13168 published September 22, 2000, 
established the President's Commission on Improving Economic 
Opportunity in Communities Dependent on Tobacco Production While 
Protecting Public Health (Commission). This notice announces that the 
Commission's Preliminary Report has been published, that comments are 
requested on the Preliminary Report, and that a public meeting will be 
conducted by the Commission on February 21, 2001. The purpose of the 
meeting will be to review comments received on the Preliminary Report 
and recommendations from a tobacco working group and others in 
preparation for work on the Final Report.

DATES: The Commission will meet on February 21, 2001, from 9:00 a.m. to 
4:00 p.m. at 2101 L Street, NW, Room 303A, Washington, DC. If special 
accommodations are required, please contact Doug Richardson, at the 
address specified above, by COB February14, 2001. All times are Eastern 
Standard Time. Comments on the Preliminary Report are requested through 
March 8, 2001. Comments may be submitted through the website at http://, by fax, or by mail to the Commission at the 
contact information listed below. All meetings are open to the public; 
however, seating is limited and available on a first-come basis. 
Written comments may be filed with the Commission before or after the 
meeting at the contact information listed below. Copies of the 
Preliminary Report are available on the Commission's website at http:// or by contacting the Commission's office at 
the contact information listed below.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Doug Richardson, Executive Director, 
Tobacco Commission, United States Department of Agriculture, (USDA), 
1400 Independence Avenue, SW, STOP 0574, Washington, D.C., 20250-0574 
or telephone (202) 418-4266 or toll free (866) 804-6698; FAX (202) 418-
4270; Internet:

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The purpose of the Commission is to advise 
the President on changes occurring in the tobacco farming economy and 
recommend such measures as may be necessary to improve economic 
opportunity and development in communities that are dependent on 
tobacco production, while protecting consumers, particularly children, 
from hazards associated with smoking. The Commission collected and 
reviewed information about changes in the tobacco farming economy and 
Federal, State, and local initiatives intended to help tobacco growers, 
tobacco quota holders, and communities dependent on tobacco production 
pursue new economic opportunities. The Commission received public input 
through two public forums, its website, written comments and experts in 
tobacco farming, tobacco health issues, and economic development. After 
reviewing all input, the Commission issued its Preliminary Report 
regarding the economic situation facing tobacco producers and tobacco 
dependent communities. As set forth in the Report, the Commission has 
made no final recommendations but has established the following 
principles to guide its future deliberations:
    (a) The Commission's recommendations should promote both the public 
health and the economic security and stability of tobacco farmers and 
their communities.
    (b) Both short-term and long-term assistance are warranted for 
family tobacco farmers and their communities because of two factors: 
(1) the dramatic reduction in the purchase of U.S. tobacco leaf in 
recent years as the result of a complex set of trends that are both 
long term and global in nature, and (2) past Federal policies which 
have led many tobacco farmers to a heavy, if not total, reliance on 
this crop and way of life.
    (c) The preservation of a tobacco program that controls supply, 
maintains price, moves quotas into the hands of growers, and 
incorporates health and safety protection is in the best interests of 
tobacco farmers and the public health.
    (d) Solutions to the problems facing tobacco farmers should protect 
family farms, of which a significant number are small farms and owned 
by minorities.
    (e) Policies should be adopted to ensure that any system of direct 
contracting between manufacturers and U.S. tobacco farmers does not 
undermine the protections for family farms and the public health that 
are provided by the tobacco program.
    (f) Any tobacco program changes should focus on long-term solutions 
to the problems facing tobacco farmers, not short-term quick fixes.
    (g) Tobacco farmers should be compensated for their quota at a fair 
and equitable value in order to address their current crisis and reduce 
their dependency on tobacco, an action which is in the best interests 
of the tobacco producing and the public health communities.
    (h) Economic development assistance to tobacco producing 
communities is in the best interests of tobacco farmers, their 
communities, and the public health community. The Commission should 
consider the broadest range of economic actions to assist tobacco 
farmers, tobacco farm families, and their communities in promoting 
their prosperity, stability, and way of life during this period of 
transition, including:
    (1) Locally driven assistance to tobacco producing communities for 
economic redevelopment and diversification,
    (2) Support for the growth of supplemental crops (particularly 
those utilizing specialized tobacco farming skills) and livestock and 
the infrastructure necessary to produce, process, develop new markets, 
and bring these commodities to market; and
    (3) Continued research into the development of non-harmful uses of 
tobacco products.
    (i) The American tobacco farmer and the public should be protected 

[[Page 9065]]

unfair foreign competition. For example, increased and expanded 
inspections for non-approved pesticides on imported tobacco are in the 
best interest of tobacco growers, their communities, and the health 
    (j) More needs to be done to prevent the harm caused by tobacco and 
this has been acknowledged by some tobacco product manufacturers. 
Comprehensive programs, such as those suggested in the August 2000 
Report of the Surgeon General, to reduce tobacco use and the harm 
caused by tobacco should be adopted by both the public and private 
sector with a special emphasis on the problems facing tobacco growing 
    (k) Tobacco should be regulated. The U.S. Food and Drug 
Administration (FDA) should have authority to establish fair and 
equitable regulatory controls over the manufacture, sale, distribution, 
and labeling of tobacco products, comparable to regulations established 
for other products regulated by the FDA. Such regulations should have 
as their goal the protection of public health. The U.S. Department of 
Agriculture (USDA) should retain its authority to set safety standards 
governing tobacco farms.
    (l) Measures to fund the recommendations of the Commission must be 
reliable, long-term, and consistent with the best interests of both 
tobacco farming communities and the public health.
    In its December 5, 2000, meeting, the Commission established a 
tobacco working group comprised of tobacco producers, farm 
organizations, and health community representatives to study further 
changes needed in the tobacco program and to propose recommendations to 
be considered by the Commission.
    The Preliminary Report requests public input on a number of issues. 
This notice solicits recommendations on these issues or on any other 
issues pertinent to the Commission's charge. Copies of the Preliminary 
Report are available on the Commission's website at http:// or by contacting the Commission's office at 
the contact information listed above. The purpose of this meeting is to 
review public input received to date on the Preliminary Report and to 
review the report from the tobacco working group and others in order to 
begin preparation of the Final Report to the President.

    Signed at Washington, D.C. on February 1, 2001.
James R. Little,
Acting Administrator, Farm Service Agency.
[FR Doc. 01-3120 Filed 2-2-01; 10:41 am]