Agriculture Mike Johanns made the following statement yesterday regarding the Cole Commission's Report on the Australian Wheat Board:

"I appreciate the Australian Government's commitment to a thorough, independent and transparent inquiry of allegations against Australian Wheat Board Limited and AWB (USA) Limited. The Australian Government delivered a timely review of the findings to USDA senior staff this morning.

"In November 2005, AWB voluntarily agreed to not participate in USDA's export credit program pending the outcome of the Government of Australia's full investigation. We closely monitored the Cole inquiry, and are reviewing the final report today.

"While I understand that the Government of Australia intends to pursue criminal proceedings in this case, I have directed that USDA resume the debarment process.

"The company has not participated in USDA programs since FY2004."

SOURCE: USDA news release.