Past polices designed for an isolated economy cannot meet the current needs of today's rapidly expanding food and agricultural system, stated a report released this week from the US Department of Agriculture. According to a statement, the report, entitled "Food and Agricultural Policy: Taking Stock for the New Century," aims at identifying critical needs for the new century and details the changes that have taken place in agriculture across the American food and farm sector. It recommends that policy makers examine past policies and programs and, where necessary, define new goals and principles that could best guide the future growth and development of the farm, food and agriculture industry in the new century. "Farmers today operate in a global, technologically advanced, rapidly diversifying, highly competitive environment that is driven by increasingly sophisticated consumers. The various policies, programs, and supporting infrastructure that serve our food system will require updating to meet future needs," commented Agriculture Secretary Ann M.Veneman in a statement. Key principles of the report include: farm policy and programs must be tailored to reflect wide differences among farms with respect to production costs, marketing approaches, management capabilities, and household goals; trade policy must focus on gaining access to foreign markets through tariff reduction and the elimination of trade distorting subsidies; and a strong commitment to ensuring the access of all Americans to a healthy and nutritious food supply. We wait to learn how and when the actual implementation of the above key principles will occur.