Statement on Signing a Bill Establishing a National Commission on Agricultural Trade and Export Policy

August 30, 1984

I have today signed H.J. Res. 600, the agricultural trade and export policy commission act.

H.J. Res. 600 would establish a National Commission on Agricultural Trade and Export Policy to conduct studies of agricultural trade and export policies, programs, and practices of the United States, and to make recommendations to the President and Congress.

The congressional sponsors of this legislation see the Commission's work as providing recommendations for the agriculture community, the administration, and the Congress to consider as they work together in developing the 1985 farm bill. I expect the 1985 farm bill to be an historic watershed in laying the groundwork for assuring the continuation of a prosperous and productive agricultural economy. While I am not convinced that we need yet another commission to study agricultural policy, I hope the Commission will constructively join the debate on the future direction of American agriculture, including that of agricultural trade and exports.

Numerous other groups, including the President's Export Council, official industry advisory groups, and the President's Working Group on Future Food and Agriculture Policy, are also examining the many issues that can affect the future course of American agriculture. We hope that the free exchange and critical review of all such views will lead to the development of farm legislation that sets a sound course for agricultural policy.

In signing H.J. Res. 600, however, I must express my concern about the membership of the Commission. Under this resolution the Commission is to be composed of 3 officers from the executive branch, who serve in a nonvoting capacity, and 32 members who are either selected by, or are Members of, Congress. Although the Commission would appear to serve primarily legislative functions, this bill would place the Commission partly within the executive branch. I believe that creation of such a commission, which is neither clearly within the executive branch, nor clearly within the legislative branch, tends to blur the functional distinction between the governmental branches that is fundamental to the concept of separation of powers. It would be more appropriate for the Commission to be composed either entirely of members selected by the legislative branch, if it is to serve primarily legislative functions, or entirely of members appointed by the President, if it is to serve the executive branch.

Moreover, I do not consider it advisable to have the Secretary of Agriculture or any other executive branch official receive private donations to assist the Commission. The Department of Agriculture will provide such staff resources as are needed from existing resources and make use of Commodity Credit Corporation funds as authorized to cover travel expenses, per diem, and other expenses as needed.

Note: As enacted, H.J. Res. 600 is Public Law 98 - 412, approved August 30.