When I became Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee in January of this year, I had one primary goal: to ensure that America’s farmers and ranchers have the policies in place that they need to feed, fuel, and clothe the nation while ensuring stability and consistency for farmers, ranchers, consumers, markets, and rural communities. After all, agriculture is the foundation of our livelihood and the lifeblood of rural America. And, while our work will never be done, we are off to a great start.
House Passes $8.7 billion in Emergency Farm Relief
Washington, D.C. — As farmers and ranchers face the second consecutive year of the worst farm crisis in recent memory, the U.S. House of Representatives today passed by a vote of 240 to 175, the FY 2000 Agriculture Appropriations Conference Report which contains $8.7 billion in emergency farm relief.
"There is no doubt we needed to pass this legislation," said House Agriculture Committee Chairman Larry Combest (R-TX). "But, in the future, Congress has to strengthen the farm safety net so we can move away from ad hoc funding every time there are crop losses or low prices. That is why the Committee is going to begin a comprehensive review of farm policy early next year."
Included in the emergency farm relief package:
Market Loss Payments totaling $5.5 billion and equal to 100% of a producer's 1999 AMTA payment to be delivered within 2 weeks of enactment.
$475 million in direct payments to oilseed producers.
$1.2 billion in Production Loss Payments to producers who suffered weather-related losses in 1999.
$650 million in Crop Insurance Premium Assistance to provide a premium discount to producers who purchase crop insurance in the 2000 crop year.
$201 million to fully fund Cotton Step 2.
An increase in the payment limitation for Loan Deficiency Payments and Marketing Loan Gains from $75,000 to $150,000.
$125 million in dairy assistance.
$200 million in assistance for livestock producers.
"Farmers and ranchers are facing hard times around the country, and this relief is essential to helping them get through this year," Combest said. "I only hope that Secretary Glickman gets these payments out on time rather than repeat the extreme delays farmers experienced last year."
Today's farm relief bill follows on the heels of the House passage of H.R. 2559, the Agricultural Risk Protection Act of 1999, which makes across-the-board cuts in farmer-paid premiums, provides affordable insurance that protects producers against price and production volatility, increases producers' insurable yields, and initiates new risk management for livestock producers.