View Header


Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release October 23, 1998


As provided for in the Omnibus bill I signed 2 days ago, I am pleased today to designate an additional $4.2 billion in emergency assistance to our Nation's farmers and ranchers, to help them recover from the worst agricultural crisis in a decade. Coupled with the more than $1.6 billion in agricultural emergency funds released when I signed H.R. 4328, the Omnibus Consolidated and Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act, 1999, earlier this week, this brings the total to $5.9 billion. This amount is more then $1.6 billion greater than the amount included in the Agriculture Appropriations bill I vetoed on October 8 because it did not adequately address the farm crisis. I particularly want to thank Senator Daschle and my negotiating team for seeing to it that the final bill included the extra funds that will help a great many farmers stay in business.

There should be no confusion over the fact that these funds provide only a 1-year, temporary fix for the overall problems with the farm safety net. That is why I am equally pleased about other provisions in the bill that address the long-term need for farmers to get a fair income from the market and to help them better manage their variation in annual income. A major reason for the drop in prices for some major crops this year has been lower commodity exports, which account for a third of our farm output.

We fought long and hard to secure the nearly $18 billion in IMF funding included in the bill, which will especially help our customers in Asia and elsewhere so that they can continue to buy our farm products. The bill also makes permanent the ability of farmers to average their income across good years and bad to stabilize the farm family budget.

However, I also recognize that there are some fundamental shortcomings in the structure of the Federal farm income safety net. Therefore, I will review proposals for long-term improvements in the risk management and crop insurance programs to reduce the risk that next year farmers and ranchers will again suffer under such severe conditions.

I also want to thank Secretary of Agriculture Glickman for his tireless work on behalf of American agriculture. I know he and his staff are hard at work right now setting the process in place to deliver the assistance I am designating today. While it cannot happen overnight -- in particular, we will not know the full extent of the 1998 crop losses and due compensation for some weeks to come -- I know he will shortly begin delivering these funds to farmers and ranchers as quickly and as fairly as possible.