A newer deal

THE landmark 'Freedom To Farm' bill which was recently inked by the us President Bill Clinton, marks a sweeping change in us farm programme instituted in the post-deprewon era- The bill will gradually phase out not just the heavy subsidies enjoyed by American farmers, but also 11inlrate them from earlier constraints. No longer can Washington dictate what and how much the farmers ought to grow, or whether they are to produce at all. The cheering lot are mightily relieved as they can now go ahead and give farmers else- where in the world, a run for their money in the export market. The new legislation, valid for seven years, lifts restrictions but continues providing farmers their annual - albeit declining - payments upto the year 2002.

But the bill has its critics, who are led by none other than the L s President himself. The reluctant President has said he would work with the Congress nest year to try and "strengthen" the legislation because it currently implies a weakening of the safety net farmers were earlier guaranteed against pi ice plunges and natural disasters.