THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Vice President
STATEMENT BY THE VICE PRESIDENT ON THE SIGNING OF H.R. 2559, THE AGRICULTURAL RISK MANAGEMENT PROTECTION ACT OF 2000 I am very pleased that today President Clinton is signing into law
H.R. 2559, the Agricultural Risk Protection Act of 2000.
Two years ago the Administration proposed to make federal crop insurance more inclusive and more affordable for America's family farmers. I am pleased that this bill accomplishes this, consistent with the Administration's proposal. These insurance reforms are long overdue and represent the first real step Congress has taken in recent years to strengthen the safety net for America's family farmers.
But more needs to be done. I am pleased that this bill includes $7.2 billion in emergency aid for producers, including income assistance payments for producers of a wide variety crops. However, Congress should have targeted these payments to family farmers and ranchers based upon their current production and actual income losses rather than past production records dating back to 1986. In addition, Congress should have adopted the Administration's proposals to make conservation an integral part of the farm safety net through voluntary conservation programs.
The mere fact that emergency farm aid once again is needed--for the third straight year--should dispel any doubt that the Republican's so-called 'Freedom to Farm' policy has failed. The emergency farm spending totaling over $22 billion during the past three years has not fixed the failures of Freedom to Farm and does not relieve Congress of its obligation to do so once and for all.
The bill does include a number of other provisions which were requested by the Administration, and which I also strongly support. The bill makes important reforms to federal child nutrition programs. It also improves the protection of U.S. agriculture and the environment from harmful pests and noxious weeds. And I am especially glad that it expands research into the use of biomass crops, and other materials in the creation of chemicals, fuels, and electricity. In that regard, the bill builds upon the Administration's Bioproducts and Biomass Initiative launched by the President last summer. By providing competitive substitutes for fossil fuels, bio-based products will lead to new sources of income for farmers, new business opportunities and high-technology jobs for rural America, and do so in a way that improves our environment.