WASHINGTON (AP) _ He may be a Cabinet member, but Edward Madigan still eats lunch at his desk.

The Agriculture secretary, however, does fly first class when he travels on government business, and he is driven to work and home again in a government- provided, black 1991 Lincoln Continental Towncar.

That's according to his staff, in response to questions from The Associated Press about the perks that go along with being in the Cabinet.

In a written response Friday to the AP's questions, Madigan's staff also noted that the value of the secretary's transportation to and from home is considered personal - and taxable - income.

Madigan has taken 11 trips on commercial airliners since becoming secretary in March, and five others on military aircraft. Three of those trips, however, were organized by someone else - a member of Congress, Secretary of State James A. Baker III and Transportation Secretary Samuel Skinner.

The two trips on military aircraft that Madigan chartered were to the Soviet Union and North Dakota.

Madigan's security detail is provided by special agents of the Agriculture Department's office of inspector general.

But it is the agency's policy not to comment on the level of personal protection Madigan receives, or any special security measures for his home or office.

When Madigan doesn't eat at his desk, he can walk one flight up from his office to an executive dining room. But he, like the other 80 or so senior staff who are allowed to eat there, must pay for his lunch.

The dining room is run by a contractor, Canteen Corp., and Madigan's staff says the prices are not cut-rate. In fact, the cost of the soup and salad bar is $6.54.


WASHINGTON (AP) - The House Agriculture Committee has approved legislation to expand short-term food aid and long-term technical assistance to the Soviet Union and other emerging democracies.

The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Kika de la Garza, D-Texas, would help the nations restructure their food production, processing and distribution systems.

''It is a helping hand to people in these countries who are struggling to create a new system of political and economic freedoms,'' said de la Garza, the committee chairman.

He said the bill gives the Agriculture Department greater flexibility in providing food and other assistance to the Soviets and other countries undergoing economic reform, while at the same helping the U.S. farm industry.

''By helping these countries modernize their food systems, we can expand the markets for U.S. agricultural products and benefit our own farm economy,'' de la Garza said.

Rep. Tom Coleman of Missouri, the Agriculture Committee's ranking Republican, said the legislation ''will help make sure that American agriculture continues to play its proper leadership role in promoting freedom worldwide.

''At the same time, the bill will promote potential long-term markets in which American commodities and products can effectively compete,'' Coleman said.

The legislation would give the president authority to provide U.S. commodities on credit or as grants. Eligible commodities include bulk and high value commodities and processed products, meat and poultry, fish, edible and inedible tallow, wood and processed wood products.

The bill lifts, for the current year only, credit-worthiness requirements in order to make credit guarantees available to the Soviets if the agriculture secretary determines an urgent or critical need for farm commodities.


WASHINGTON (AP) - Farmer cooperatives had the highest net business volume in history last year, the Agriculture Department reports.

Combined business volume for cooperatives ending their business year in 1990 was $77.2 billion, up from $72.1 billion a year earlier.

Before 1990, the highest volume on record was $73 billion in 1984.

But last year's net income of $1.4 billion was down 21.8 percent from 1989's level of nearly $1.9 billion, USDA said in a recent report. It cited decreased earnings of farm supply and dairy cooperatives as major contributing factors.

Cooperatives with losses totaled 857, compared with 574 in 1989. Losses totaled nearly $121 million, up from $82.4 million.