In Shift, Bush OKs Subsidy in Sale of Wheat

From Associated Press

President Bush, who has argued for eliminating trade subsidies, on Tuesday approved U.S. subsidies for the sale of 1.5 million tons of wheat to the Soviet Union in a major trade and foreign policy decision.

It was the first time Bush has directly approved subsidies under a 1985 law, the Export Enhancement Program, permitting export subsidies to help U.S. farmers compete in international markets.

The sale amounts to half the amount initially proposed by the Agriculture Department and backed by farm-state members of Congress. The subsidies apply to wheat intended for delivery this month and in June.


The White House announced the decision, which followed divided recommendations from Bush’s own Cabinet, in a short statement:

“The President concluded that the dual objectives of maintaining market share for our farm exports and advancing international negotiations warrant the use of the EEP in this case.”

Bush’s decision came after senior Republican leaders of the House and Senate urged him in a White House meeting to move ahead with the export aid.

The subsidies had been suspended while the Bush Administration reviewed both the budget impact of the program and overall U.S. relations with the Soviet Union.

Senate Minority Leader Bob Dole (R-Kan.), a staunch supporter of the program, said “strong pitches” had been made by GOP lawmakers for Bush to act on the long-pending matter, “the point being, if we’re going to trade with the Soviet Union, which we are, then we have to be competitive.”