THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT
I am disappointed that today's Senate vote on the agriculture bill failed to provide adequate emergency aid for farmers in this country who are suffering from the worst agricultural crisis in a decade. While this agriculture bill provides some help to farmers, it simply does not do enough.
This year flood, drought, and crop disease have wiped out entire harvests. Plummeting prices at home and collapsing markets in Asia have threatened the livelihoods of entire communities. Many farmers will see their net income this year drop by as much as 40 per cent below a five-year average.
It is time for us to take action that will make significant progress in alleviating the hardship in America's heartland. I continue to support Senator Daschle and Harkin's proposal to provide approximately $5 billion dollars in aid while establishing a system of payments that allows flexibility if commodity prices drop even further. I call on Congress to send me a comprehensive plan that protects farmers by strengthening the safety net at this difficult time. In addition, I urge Congress to support my own emergency aid proposal for $2.3 billion that originated with Senators Conrad and Dorgan to provide farmers with additional insurance and indemnity payments for crop loss.
This total package of aid would make a significant contribution to helping this nation's farmers cope with the current agricultural crisis. I urge Congress to be fully responsive to their needs. If Congress insists on sending me an Agriculture bill that fails to respond fully to the needs of America's farmers, then I will have no choice but to veto the bill.