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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 24, 1999

Ryan Sends Message On Trade And Agriculture
Undertakes Role as Newly Elected Chair of Midwestern Governor's Conference

SPRINGFIELD -- Governor George H. Ryan today announced the approval of two resolutions on agriculture and trade by the Midwest Governors' Conference (MGC). As the newly-elected chairman of the MGC, Ryan is forwarding the resolutions to the White House, Members of Congress, the U.S. Trade Representative, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and other affected parties.

"These resolutions express the strongly held positions of the members of the Midwestern Governor's Conference. They advance both the regional and national agendas for agricultural trade and address environmental concerns over large animal feeding operations with a balanced approach," Ryan said.

The proposed resolution on agricultural trade calls upon U.S. Congress to, among other things, support fast-track authority to be granted to the U.S. President; and to eliminate foreign subsidies, dumping activities and unjustified import quotas. The MGC also seeks to establish a speedy resolution process within the World Trade Organization for addressing the issues of non-tariff barriers. It is particularly timely, given the upcoming meeting of the WTO early next month in Seattle, Washington.

The resolution on the unified national strategy for animal feed operations expresses MGC support for the implementation of a strategy to allow states to use alternative programs to meet environmental performance standards. Ryan said the resolution also seeks to allow state programs to operate in lieu of the federal strategy as long as these alternatives programs meet those standards.

Ryan was unanimously elected chair of the MGC in late October.

"I look forward to this opportunity to work with the Governors of Illinois' neighboring states, and those throughout the Midwest, on issues that are of shared importance to our citizens," he said. "Midwestern states face many of the same challenges as nearly every state in the Union. We also have some of our own problems, which are more unique to the Midwest. In both cases, we could benefit from working cooperatively as a region to share approaches with each other, compare solutions, and hopefully come up with some answers that work for every state in the region," Ryan noted.

In addition to the MGC's regular focus on a broad range of issues important to the Midwest, Governor Ryan intends to focus his efforts in the upcoming year as MGC chairman on the following issue areas:

Agriculture - Addressing proposals for long-term adjustment in US farm policy; expanding international trade opportunities; consider incentives to reduce the loss of farmland; promoting biotechnology.

Federal Funding - Working to promote fairer federal funding formulas, redress shortcomings in federal programs that unintentionally discriminate against the Midwest, promote procurement opportunities for Midwest companies and non-profits, increasing grant opportunities for Midwest states.

Drugs - Teaming up with MGC member states to fight drug abuse, especially among our youth, and especially the growing problem of methamphetamine use.

Transportation - Urging states in the region to join in an effort to promote increased federal assistance for high-speed rail, river transportation, and more traditional mass transit.

Trade Policy - Advocating a more open U.S. trade policy that would be a tremendous benefit to the economies of the Midwest states.

The Midwestern Governors' Conference is a non-profit, bipartisan organization that brings together top state leaders to work cooperatively on important regional public policy issues. Its purpose is to foster regional development, attain greater efficiency in state administration, facilitate interstate cooperation and improve intergovernmental relationships. Created in December 1962, the MGC held its first annual meeting in Chicago. Members of the 12-state conference include the governors of: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

Ryan replaces outgoing chairman, Governor Frank O'Bannon of Indiana. The newly-elected vice-chair is Governor Tom Vilsack of Iowa.


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