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                     Office of the Press Secretary
                         (New York, New York)
For Immediate Release                                 September 21, 1998

President Clinton will ask Congress to provide $2.3 billion in emergency relief to farmers in order to respond to the worst agricultural crisis in a decade. Commodity prices are very low and going lower, driving down land prices, increasing foreclosures on family farms, and cutting off credit for many other farmers.

In July, the President responded to this crisis by announcing the purchase of 80 million bushes of wheat worth $250 million for humanitarian donation abroad and additional emergency spending to aid farmers. Since then, prices have continued to plummet, and the crisis has worsened. The President is supporting Senators Daschle and Harkin's package to provide increased income subsidies by uncapping market loan rates, as well as requesting that Congress fund $2.3 billion in indemnity payments and loans to help farmers recover from the crisis.

Specifically, the President is requesting emergency funding as follows:

Income assistance for farmers hit by sinking commodity prices is not included in this emergency supplemental, but is part of a package sponsored by Senators Daschle and Harkin, which the Administration supports. The Daschle/Harkin proposal would provide higher income subsidies to these farmers by uncapping market loan rates for 1998 crops. This would guarantee farmers a higher price for their crops, putting more cash in their pockets and improving their credit worthiness in their discussions with banks next spring. The Administration urges the Congress to act on this proposal. The Administration will continue to work with the Congress to ensure farm income losses are adequately addressed in the emergency legislation.

As part of this supplemental package, the President is also requesting emergency funding of $254 million for the Department of Defense to help repair, clean-up, and reconstruct Army and Air Force sites damaged by recent flooding from the monsoons in the Republic of Korea.