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Office of the Vice President

For Immediate Release October 13, 1999


I am pleased that Congress today took a step toward recognizing the dire need of American farmers by passing the Agriculture Appropriations Bill. The bill will provide immediate emergency assistance to farming communities across the country -- helping farmers and their families hurt most by the recent farm crisis, low prices, and devastating losses due to natural disasters that ravaged farming communities this season.

While the $8.7 billion provided by the Appropriations Bill is a good start -- it does not go nearly far enough in addressing the needs of farmers and working rural families during these difficult times. We need to target assistance to the farmers who need it most, and this bill fails to rectify some of the problems with the 96 Farm Bill. There is no question that Congress should have done more to alleviate the strains placed on farmers -- and yet farmers need help now. They can no longer afford to wait for urgently needed assistance.

In addition, the appropriations bill failed to provide adequate funds for conservation efforts -- something that must be a priority if we are going to conserve the environment for future generations and for the future of farming in this country.

Despite this step, significant changes to the Farm Program are required in order to help alleviate the underlying causes of the current farm crisis. I will continue to work with Congress and fight for long term solutions to help save family farms.