[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1998, Book II)]
[August 12, 1998]
[Pages 1442-1443]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

Statement on Signing the Emergency Farm Financial Relief Act
August 12, 1998

    Today I am signing into law S. 2344, the ``Emergency Farm Financial 
Relief Act,'' which will allow farmers to receive their market 
transition payments earlier than usual. This legislation is necessary in 
a year marked by low crop prices, a series of natural disasters, and 
other financial

[[Page 1443]]

strains in agricultural markets. By speeding up these payments, this law 
will help many rural American communities and farm families, 
particularly those facing financial pressures through no fault of their 
own. Secretary of Agriculture Glickman proposed this idea earlier this 
year, and I am pleased that the Congress has moved forward on it. 
However, this legislation fails to provide any additional direct Federal 
income support payments; it simply accelerates them. We must take 
further action to provide a proper safety net for family farmers during 
this difficult year.
    There is more we can do. Earlier this month, the Department of 
Agriculture purchased 535,000 tons of wheat for donation to hungry 
people overseas, the first step in the plan I announced in July to 
purchase more than 80 million bushels of American wheat and wheat flour. 
This will help strengthen crop prices and meet humanitarian needs 
abroad. I have also urged the Congress to move forward on the proposal 
of Senators Dorgan and Conrad to provide at least $500 million in 
emergency assistance to farmers who have been hit hard by natural 
disasters and low prices. Such emergency legislation would provide a 
supplemental crop insurance benefit to producers with multiple-year 
losses, compensate farmers whose crop and pasture land has been flooded, 
and provide emergency feed assistance to livestock producers suffering 
from drought. The Dorgan/Conrad proposal has already passed the Senate, 
and I urge the full Congress to approve their amendment and send it to 
me for signature so we can give hard-pressed farmers the relief they 
deserve as soon as possible.
    Moreover, Secretary Glickman and I have challenged the Congress to 
improve the farm safety net in a number of very specific ways. Our 
proposals would extend the term of marketing assistance loans; give 
farmers real flexibility in planting by allowing them to insure new and 
different crops; make credit more widely available and modify the ``one 
strike'' policy for farmers who had a debt write-down; use leftover 
Export Enhancement Program funds in future years for food aid and other 
purposes; let farmers use USDA-guaranteed operating loans to refinance; 
and expand and improve crop insurance. Finally, the Congress must also 
end its delay on funding for the International Monetary Fund so that we 
can help stabilize the markets in Asia that are such important customers 
for our farm exports.
    These are tough times for many American farmers. We must continue to 
look for ways to help our farm communities get through them.

                                                      William J. Clinton

The White House,

August 12, 1998.

Note: S. 2344, approved August 12, was assigned Public Law No. 105-228.