Farm Emergency Aid Awaits President's Signature

Oct 13, 1999

Emergency farm aid designed to place money quickly in the hands of financially struggling producers cleared Congress Wednesday afternoon, matching the Secretary of Agriculture's highest estimated disaster funding needs.  As designed by Congress, within two weeks of the president's signature the $8.7 billion aid package will deliver $5.5 billion to farmers, each receiving an amount equal to their 1999 transition payment.

In addition, the bill allows producers to collect their anticipated yearly transition payment immediately, in essence doubling the amount of cash infusion into rural areas at a time when severe weather has destroyed harvests, and poor market prices have withered the value of crops that do survive.

"America's producers know that in very short order they will have in hand this greatly-needed assistance they have been counting on," said House Agriculture Committee Chairman Larry Combest (R-Texas).  "The amount of disaster aid is at the top end of funding estimates that the Secretary of Agriculture testified was needed.  In addition to this aid, Congress is addressing the producer's more lasting needs through legislation for expanded crop and livestock revenue insurance coverage, as well as my agenda for an early review of current farm policy."

"Senate action was the final hurdle in getting some much-needed relief out to farm country," said Charlie Stenholm (D-Texas), the Committee's ranking minority member. "Now it's time for Congress to roll up its sleeves and get to work developing a comprehensive agriculture policy that provides a real safety net that protects the nation's producers from weather disasters and low prices."

The emergency assistance within H.R. 1906 (FY 2000 Agriculture Appropriations) includes:

Market loss payments of $5.544 billion

Oilseed assistance providing $475 million in direct payments

Production loss payments of $1.2 billion for 1999 crop and livestock weather losses

Crop insurance premium discount of 30 percent continued in the 2000 crop year

Cotton Step 2 replenishment

Increasing payment limitation for Loan Deficiency Payments (LDP's) and Marketing Loan Gains (MLG's) from $75,000 to $150,000

Livestock assistance totaling $200 million

Dairy assistance of $125 million

Extension of the Dairy Price Support Program and suspension of Recourse Loan

Peanut market assistance to quota/non-quota producers equal to 5 percent of loan

Suspension of the assessment on sugar producers

Assistance to tobacco farmers in the form of $328 million in direct payments

Mandatory livestock price reporting

Authority for producers to collect transition payments at any time during the fiscal year

$56 million for staffing needs at the Farm Service Agency using unspent USDA accounts

Generic certificate authority