Today, Rep. David Rouzer (NC-7), Chairman of the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture, held a public hearing to examine the federal and state response to avian influenza.
Congress Confronts the Farm Crisis
Two legislative measures in the House and Senate will separately address the deepening farm crisis, and House Agriculture Chairman Larry Combest (R-TX) says both are well-timed to producers' needs.
On Wednesday, the Senate passed a short-term emergency aid package for this crop year. Meanwhile, the House has slated action next month on "The Agricultural Risk Protection Act" offering new protection for crops, livestock and revenue losses.
"With these two separate bills, we confront the farm crisis this season and offer the means for producers to financially protect their crops and livestock for the future," said Chairman Combest. "By completing the emergency aid legislation, Congress will ensure that producers will be in business to plant next year's crop. By making the permanent improvements to crop insurance, we will ensure that farmers and ranchers will have powerful management tools for years to come. Both of these measures are a clear signal to producers who are facing an uncertain crop year that this Congress stands shoulder to shoulder with them in their time of need."
Combest added that he was extremely pleased with the commitment of House Speaker Denny Hastert (R-IL) to address the farm crisis. Stated Hastert, "If we don't act soon, and responsibly use every federal resource available, there won't be a future for many farmers and ranchers. That is why my colleagues and I are committed to taking decisive action this year, putting politics aside, and working to prevent future farm crises. It is time to ensure that producers will be able to harvest their crops this year and plant again in the next."
"The Agricultural Risk Protection Act" (H.R. 2559) provides future stability in the farm safety net with a $6 billion funding commitment. The legislation slated for House action next month improves federal crop insurance protection by increasing premium assistance to producers, rewarding the productive capability of farmers, and creating new coverage for falling crop values and livestock losses.
The $7.6 billion emergency aid package from the Senate includes $5.54 billion in direct payments through a one-time doubling of a producer's 1999 transition payment. It also includes $475 million for soybean and minor oilseed producers, $325 million to livestock and dairy producers, $400 million for next year's start-up of crop insurance improvements, and reinstates the Step-2 cotton export program. The Senate's aid package is included in their version of the $68 billion agriculture appropriations bill for the 2000 fiscal year.