COMBEST SHARPLY CRITICIZES USDA FOR FURTHER DISASTER RELIEF DELAYS,
URGES PRESIDENT TO SIGN AGRICULTURE CREDIT LEGISLATION (H.R. 882)
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Dan Glickman today notified Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee Larry Combest (R-TX) that the $2 billion Congress appropriated for farm disaster relief would not be available to producers until at least June — eight months after Congress appropriated the funds to help alleviate the current farm crisis. Secretary Glickman also informed Chairman Combest that flaws in the $200 million USDA-designed livestock assistance program formula will force lower payments to be made to livestock producers than was originally anticipated. In response to this information, Combest issued the following statement:
"American farmers and ranchers are in the midst of the worst agricultural crisis in recent memory. Five months ago, Congress appropriated nearly $6 billion to help ease their burden and gave the USDA near-complete authority to implement this program. There are now billions of dollars that should already be in the hands of farmers and ranchers and the fact that they're going to have to wait until well into planting season is completely unacceptable."
"This money is especially important to farmers as they go into planting season and need credit. The huge backlog in USDA loans doesn't appear to be getting any smaller and the Clinton Administration is requesting even more cuts in the Farm Service Agency. The very least the President can do is to sign the legislation Congress recently passed to free up nearly $500 million in loan authority for farmers."
Chairman sets hearing with USDA Secretary as witness