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 Meets Farm Funding Needs
Congress gave final funding approval Thursday to emergency farm credit needs and Farm Service Agency (FSA) operations, while also addressing immediate shortfalls in the current year's USDA budget.
Producers in many states have been unable to receive loans for spring planting while millions of dollars that remained in other USDA loan accounts were held back by USDA Secretary Dan Glickman. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Larry Combest (R-TX) noted that he had repeatedly urged Secretary Glickman to manage USDA loan funds by shifting available money into accounts that were being rapidly depleted. President Clinton's request for additional money did not occur until farmers were well into the critical period for securing their credit needs for the planting season.
"Instead of shifting loan funds when farmers needed the cash, hundreds of millions of dollars in loan funds went largely untouched and unavailable for weeks on end. Congress has delivered the cash to cover USDA's shortfalls and shortsighted loan management policy. With the president's signature on the legislation, farmers with loan approval should rightly expect that the USDA secretary will fund their loans now without further delay," said Chairman Combest.
The 1999 Supplemental Appropriation for agriculture includes:
$109.6 million to replenish USDA loan accounts
$42.75 million to cover Farm Service Agency salaries and expenses
$70 million for additional Livestock Disaster Assistance payments
$28 million to fund Conservation Reserve Program technical assistance to farmers and ranchers for the remainder of FY1999 and $35 million for FY2000
$145 million in assistance available to agricultural producers