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 of Representatives Reauthorizes Dairy Indemnity Program, Two Other Agriculture Measures Pass Easily
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Acting to help dairy farmers whose products are removed from the market through no fault of their own, the House of Representatives today passed H.R. 1789, a reauthorization of USDA's Dairy Indemnity Program, as well as two other agriculture measures.
H.R. 1789, which passed the House by voice vote, reauthorizes the Dairy Indemnity Program (DIP) through FY2002, requires the Secretary of Agriculture to report on alternative financing options for the program within 180 days of enactment, and permits USDA to use funds appropriated in FY1998 to pay indemnity claims that existed in FY1997. For more than thirty years - from the program's creation in 1964 until the expiration of its most recent authorization on September 30, 1995 - DIP has reimbursed dairymen when, through no fault of their own, USDA has recalled their products from the market. The bill passed the House Agriculture Committee by voice vote on September 24, 1997.
"The Dairy Indemnity Program has quietly helped dairy farmers when circumstances beyond their control change dramatically around them. As an oversight, Congress recently let the program expire, but we have acted to help out dairymen by paying valid claims and by reinstating the program until 2002," said Rep. Bob Smith (R-OR), Chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture.
"This legislation provides crucial protection to producers whose milk has become contaminated through no fault of their own. The bill will help to preserve the certainty of payment for producers, while contributing to the safety of our nation's milk supply," said Rep. Charlie Stenholm (D-TX), the primary sponsor of H.R. 1789 and the Agriculture Committee's Ranking Democrat.
The full House also passed two other measures by voice vote: H.R. 1779, introduced by Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO), authorizes a minor adjustment in the exterior boundary of the Devil's Backbone Wilderness Area in the Mark Twain National Forest, Missouri, to exclude a small parcel of land now occupied by a private party; and H.R. 2366, introduced by Rep. Stenholm, transfers the Census of Agriculture from the Department of Commerce to the Department of Agriculture and requires the Secretary of Agriculture to conduct the census every five years.
Smith represents Oregon's Second Congressional District, which includes most of eastern, central, and southern Oregon, in the U.S. House of Representatives. Stenholm represents west central Texas' Seventeenth Congressional District. Blunt represents southwest Missouri's Seventh Congressional District.