[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1998, Book II)]
[October 6, 1998]
[Page 1747]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

Statement on Agriculture Legislation
October 6, 1998

    I am disappointed that today's Senate vote on the agriculture bill 
failed to provide adequate emergency aid for farmers in this country who 
are suffering from the worst agricultural crisis in a decade. While this 
agriculture bill provides some help for farmers, it simply does not do 
    This year flood, drought, and crop disease have wiped out entire 
harvests. Plummeting prices at home and collapsing markets in Asia have 
threatened the livelihoods of entire communities. Many farmers will see 
their net income this year drop by as much as 40 percent below a 5-year 
    It is time for us to take action that will make significant progress 
in alleviating the hardship in America's heartland. I continue to 
support Senator Daschle and Harkin's proposal to provide approximately 
$5 billion dollars in aid while establishing a system of payments that 
allows flexibility if commodity prices drop even further. I call on 
Congress to send me a comprehensive plan that protects farmers by 
strengthening the safety net at this difficult time. In addition, I urge 
Congress to support my own emergency aid proposal for $2.3 billion that 
originated with Senators Conrad and Dorgan to provide farmers with 
additional insurance and indemnity payments for crop loss.
    This total package of aid would make a significant contribution to 
helping this Nation's farmers cope with the current agricultural crisis. 
I urge Congress to be fully responsive to their needs. If Congress 
insists on sending me an agricultural bill that fails to respond fully 
to the needs of America's farmers, then I will have no choice but to 
veto the bill.