The short, unhappy life of Doha


In one episode of the 1970s television series M*A*S*H, an eminently paranoid Army intelligence officer tags flag-waving Frank Burns a Communist sympathizer because Burns subscribes to flag-waving Reader’s Digest.
“Drop the a, e, r, and s from its title,” explains the whacko officer to a shaking-like-a-leaf Burns, “and you have ‘Red Digest,’ comrade.”
The scene comes to mind after reading press accounts of a late August farm bill forum in North Dakota.
Trade talks. At the gathering, House Ag Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, guest of Sen. Kent Conrad, a senior Democrat on the Senate Ag Committee, was asked to explain how the 2007 House farm bill fits the Bush administration’s negotiating strategy in the Doha Round of endless world trade talks.
It fits fine, offered Peterson, because U.S. farm program spending under the 2007 House plan drops from a now World Trade Organization-legal $19 billion per year to an estimated $8 billion per year, or well within the 60 percent cut the Bush administration quickly conceded to World Trade Organization talkers a year ago.
A bigger story, Peterson asserted, is the now-80-percent cut in program benefits the White House wants “to


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Alan Guebert was raised on an 800-acre, 100-cow southern Illinois dairy farm. After graduation from the University of Illinois in 1980, he served as a writer and editor at Professional Farmers of America, Successful Farming magazine and Farm Journal magazine. His syndicated agricultural column, The Farm and Food File, began in June, 1993, and now appears weekly in more than 70 publications throughout the U.S. and Canada. He and spouse Catherine, a social worker, have two adult children.