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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release July 31, 1999
                      REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT IN
                      RADIO ACTUALITY ON FARM AID

THE PRESIDENT: As America's farmers look ahead to this year's harvest, what should be a time of reward and satisfaction is instead becoming a time of disappointment -- and for some, for too many, a time of ruin.

From dropping crop prices to diminishing foreign markets to devastating droughts in some parts of the country, many of our farmers and ranchers are facing the worst crisis in a decade. My administration has done what we can to ease this crisis, from increasing our food purchases for humanitarian aid around the world, to speeding up farm program payments, to ensuring $6 billion in emergency aid last year to help farmers in need. To really help our farmers and ranchers, we have to fix the underlying problem.

Let's just face it: the 1996 Farm Bill simply does not do enough to help our farmers and ranchers cope in hard times. It doesn't give me or the United States Department of Agriculture the tools we need to help farmers and ranchers thrive over the long term -- from providing critical income assistance to farmers who need it most in bad years, to making it easier for farmers to buy crop insurance and improving our crop insurance program, to continuing our efforts to expand markets abroad and ensure fair practices here at home. That's the right way to help our farmers and ranchers over the long term.

I am committed to working with Congress to provide the resources to help our farmers and ranchers by dealing with today's crisis and by fixing the Farm Bill for the future. We must do so in a way that maintains the fiscal discipline that has created our prosperity and that now makes it possible for us to save Social Security, to strengthen and modernize Medicare with a prescription drug benefit and to pay off our national debt, guaranteeing our long-term financial prosperity. These things are good for America's farming and ranching families, too, and they're good for all Americans.

NOTE: Sound from this statement is available on the White House Press Office Radio Actuality Line at 202-456-5671.