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Office of the Vice President

For Immediate Release March 20, 2000
                       NATIONAL AGRICULTURE WEEK

     This week our country celebrates National Agriculture Week.  It is

a time of great reflection that offers each of us the opportunity to salute the continuing achievements of America's farmers and ranchers. It is through their hard work and dedication that all Americans have been able to enjoy the safest, cheapest and most abundant food supply in the world.

While most Americans are benefiting from unprecedented prosperity, too many of America's family farmers are in danger of being left behind. Harsh weather, low prices, global over-production and lack of an adequate farm safety net have left many farmers and their families on the brink of losing their livelihoods.

We saw last year how devastating a drought can be for farmers and ranchers. Last week, NOAA weather forecasters announced that many parts of the country could face drought conditions again this year. While, it's too early to predict crop production with any degree of certainty, we have to be alert to the possibility of another damaging year for farmers. Congress needs to be ready to step in with emergency aid if it is needed.

Thousands of farmers have convened on Washington, D.C. this week to "Rally for Rural America." I urge Congress to act on new, broader farm policy to help farmers when prices are low or when disaster strikes and give them the opportunity to participate in America's prosperity. We have to find ways to help farmers and ranchers become better-prepared for dry weather before it ruins crops. Congress needs to follow President Clinton's lead and support our farmers in their voluntary efforts to preserve the land and ensure clean water.

Too often we take American farmers and ranchers for granted. In the midst of our busy schedules, we whisk through our grocery stores knowing that the shelves and bins will be teeming with choices. This week, I encourage you to take a moment to reflect on the men and women of American agriculture and the tremendous contribution they make to our great nation.