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Minutes for the Presidentís Commission on Improving Economic Opportunity in Communities Dependent on Tobacco Production While Protecting Public Health (The Tobacco Commission) Public Meeting.

Date of Meeting: December 5, 2000
Time of Meeting: 9:00 A.M. until 12:55 P.M.
Place of Meeting: 3101 L. Street, NW
  Room 303A
  Washington, DC
   
Commission members and staff attending the meeting:
   
  Matthew Myers - Co-Chair
  William "Rod" Kuegel - Co-Chair
  LynnCarol Birgmann - Member
  Arthur C. Campbell - Member
  James T. Hill, Jr. - Member
  Ronald G. Sroufe - Member
  John R. Seffrin - Member
  M. Cass Wheeler - Member
  Jesse L. White - Member
  Doug Richardson - Executive Director
  Charles Hatcher - Designated Federal Official
  Dan Stevens - Acting Designated Federal Official
  Eloise Taylor - Staff Assistant

A. Opening Remarks

The meeting was opened by Dan Stevens, Acting Designated Federal Official and turned over to Matthew Myers and Rod Kuegel, Co-Chairs for opening remarks.

B. Presentation on Foreign Production and Consumption Trends in Tobacco

Rod Kuegel, Co-Chair introduced Dan Stevens, Director, Tobacco and Peanuts Analysis Staff, Tobacco and Peanuts Division, who gave a presentation on Foreign Production and Consumption Trends in Tobacco.

C. Introduction of Commission Members

Mr. Myers asked that each member introduce themselves and give their thoughts on comments received on the website, by mail and testimony from the two forums that were conducted in North Carolina and Kentucky. Each member introduced themselves and gave their comments with respect to input from the public.

D. Review of Various Issue/Option Papers

The Commission reviewed various issue/option papers as presented by the staff; 1) Will Snell, Extension Professor, University of Kentucky - Buyout, 2) Blake Brown, Professor, NC State University-Various Options for Modifying the Tobacco Program and 3) Economic Development Opportunities in Tobacco Dependent Communities-Draft document. The Commission asked that these documents, once finalized, be posted to the website.

E. Principles

Upon completion of a very lengthy discussion of testimony, comments, various issues/option papers, the commission unanimously adopted the following principles to be considered in the Preliminary Report.

Commission Principles:

The goals of promoting the economic security and stability of the American tobacco farmer and tobacco farming communities and continuing to reduce disease and disability caused by tobacco products, can and should be promoted simultaneously since they are both in the best interest of tobacco farming and health communities.

Both short-term and long-term assistance is 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.

The preservation of a tobacco program that controls supply, maintains price, moves quotas into the hands of producers and incorporates health and safety protection is in the best interests of tobacco farmers and public health communities.

Solutions to the problems facing tobacco farmers should protect family farms, of which a disproportionate number are owned by minorities, and should discourage concentration of production in the hands of large producers. Policies should be adopted to insure that any system of direct "contracting" does not undermine the protections of the family farmer and the public health that are provided by the tobacco program.

Any tobacco program changes should focus on long-term solutions to the problems facing tobacco farmers not short-term quick fixes.

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.

That economic development assistance to tobacco producing communities is in the best interests of tobacco producers, 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:

(a)  substantial, locally driven economic redevelopment assistance to tobacco producing communities,

(b)  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

(c)  continued research into the development of non-harmful uses of tobacco products.

The FDA should have authority to establish fair and equitable regulatory controls over the manufacture, sale, distribution, labeling (including country of origin) and marketing of tobacco products, both domestic and imported, comparable to regulations established for other products regulated by the FDA. Such regulations should have as their goal the protection of public health and the assurance that users of tobacco products are provided with full and complete information about the products they are using. In order to accomplish this goal, industry information and research should be made available for public review. USDA should remain the federal agency with authority to set safety standards governing tobacco farms.

Measures to fund the recommendations of the Commission must be reliable, long-term and consistent with the best interests of both tobacco farming and public health communities.

The American tobacco farmer and the public should be protected against 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 community.

The Tobacco Commission recommendations should both promote the public health and the economic well-being of tobacco farmers and their communities.

F. Proposal for Outline for Preliminary Report to be Adopted

Mr. Myers made a motion that the outline for the Preliminary Report as prepared by the Commission Staff be adopted. The proposed outline was unanimously adopted by the Commission.

G. Preliminary Report

Plans for preparing the Preliminary Report were reviewed. After discussion it was proposed that the staff along with a working group appointed by the Commission go forward in preparing a draft Preliminary Report. Once the report is drafted it would be submitted to all Commission Members, for review and comment. A motion was made for acceptance of staff and working group preparing the report. The motion was unanimously approved.

December 20, 2000 was set as the tentative date for delivery of the Preliminary Report to the President. The report will be posted to the website by the same date. Public comments will be accepted by the Commission through January 22, 2001. If the Preliminary Report is not posted on the website by December 20th, such later date will be reviewed with the Commission and the public comment period extended.

H. Next Steps

The Commission Members discussed the next public meeting and suggested January 30 or 31 as possible dates. The Commission asked Staff to contact Andy Shepherd (not in attendance due to illness) and Jesse White (who left at 11:45) for concurrence with the January meeting. Location will be determined once a final meeting date is set.

The Commission Members recommended that the Co-Chairs contact the Transition Team to brief them on the Tobacco Commissionís activities.

I. Adjournment

The meeting was adjourned by Charles Hatcher at 12:55 P.M.

J. Approval

/s/ William "Rod" Kuegel                         February 21, 2001
Co-Chair                                                Date

/s/ Matthew Myers                                  February 21, 2001
Co-Chair                                                Date