Ms. KAPTUR. Mr. Chairman, this amendment relates to a special effort for outreach for our socially disadvantaged farmers. Members might recall, last year we made an effort to try to help the Department of Agriculture to resolve former civil rights problems that existed with loan programs and programs that were there to reach many of the small-scale farmers and ranchers, those grants that go through our 1890 and 1862 land grant institutions, American Indian community colleges, Hispanic- and Latino-serving
institutions, as well as all minorities involved in agriculture. I think we did a good job of it. We took the unusual step of waiving statutes of limitation to allow complaints involving racial discrimination to move forward. This [Page: H3784]
amendment this year would not increase the budget but would merely allow the Secretary of Agriculture to transfer up to $7 million from the rural housing salaries and expenses account to this program. If the Secretary uses the full authority to do that, that would mean that this outreach program for socially disadvantaged farmers would be brought up to the $10 million request level by the administration for fiscal year 2000. This program is important, because it provides technical and managerial assistance to small-scale
farmers and ranchers. There is a particular emphasis in the program on farmers from minority groups, but the program is not just limited to racial or ethnic minorities. It is carried out through grants to colleges and universities, including the 1890 and 1862 land grant institutions, American Indian community colleges and Hispanic- and Latino-serving institutions as well as through grants to community-based
organizations throughout our country. These institutions and organizations in turn provide intensive training and management assistance to small farmers and ranchers. This assistance includes, for example, preparing individualized farm plans, helping in upgrading accounting systems, and applying for credit, aid and better understanding and taking advantage of USDA programs and services.
This outreach is especially crucial now because of the crisis afflicting rural America. And it is vital to helping small and minority farmers and ranchers weather these hard times and stay on the land. I think it also adds to an important civil rights sensitivity that we need to continue pressing at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
I want to compliment Secretary Glickman and his staff for being open to the efforts of this Congress to serve all of America. For these reasons, I am pleased to offer this amendment. I greatly appreciate the support of the gentleman from New Mexico for this initiative, and I urge adoption of the amendment.