1:37 PM EDT

Marcy Kaptur, D-OH 9th

Ms. KAPTUR. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Chairman, I rise to acknowledge the hard work of the gentleman from New Mexico (Mr. SKEEN), the chairman of the Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies, members of our subcommittee, as well as the staff for their leadership, including our new staff director, Hank Moore, who has worked so hard this year.

This bill makes a reasonable effort to apportion the limited resources available to our subcommittee to keep our Nation at the leading edge for food, fiber, new fuels, and forest production, as well as the counts relating to research, trade and food safety.

May I begin by reminding my colleagues that food is not produced at the local grocery store. There is no question that agriculture and food processing are America's leading industries. Our farmers and our agricultural sector remain the most productive on the face of the Earth. They well understand, as we do, how difficult it is to maintain our Nation's commitment to excellence in agriculture in tight budgetary times.

While on balance this bill seems like a reasonable effort to stretch a limited sum of money as far as possible, and I would encourage my colleagues to vote for this bill, we simply disagree on the levels of support needed for priority programs, including the Women, Infants and Children feeding program; the Natural Resource Conservation Service, the primary conservation operation in this country; and other programs like farmland protection which were not able to be funded at all in this bill,

nor was the school breakfast pilot program that the administration requested.

We must also keep in mind that this bill simply does not do enough to address the Depression-level conditions affecting many sectors of rural America from coast to coast, whether we are talking about the Salinas Valley, cattle country in Florida, hog producing country in the Midwest, cotton fields in Texas, the list goes on and on.

This bill simply is an exceedingly limited response to an extremely serious situation afflicting many sectors of the farm economy across our Nation. As we consider this bill today, I would urge my colleagues to think about what is going on in rural America, as farmers continue to experience significant decreases in commodity prices. It started with wheat and with cattle, and it spread to the feed grains, to oil seeds, to cotton, to pork, and even now the dairy sectors.

At the same time, the costs of production are not decreasing. In fact, they are increasing. Total farm debt has risen now to over $170 billion at the end of last year, up nearly 9 percent over the last 2 years.

That means people are borrowing against their accumulated equity to make up for their lack of ability to receive a price for their product in the market. In fact, farmland values began declining in 1998, not a good sign.

We know that USDA, the Department of Agriculture predicts the greatest strain this year will be on field crops. We know that wheat, corn, soybean, upland cotton, and rice crops experienced about a 17 percent drop last year; and they project that this year, 27 percent, there will be a 27 percent drop in prices from prior year averages.

So we have a real tender situation here, which frankly this bill does not address. This bill puts blinders onto what is happening in rural America and basically says, well, we really do not have the money, so let us just continue like it was in years past, which will not solve the real situation out there. [Page: H3542]

Overall, this bill does a number of useful things, but it can hardly be considered adequate. It is moving in the right direction but falls far short of the mark. All I can say is that our Nation has a responsibility beyond this bill to help a sector of our economy so vital to our national security.

What is really happening in our country, as more bankruptcies occur in rural America, is the average age of farmers has now risen to 55. People are making live decisions out there about whether or not they are going to hold on to the farm or sell it off for another suburban development. This is not a good sign for America in the 21st Century. People really should not be selling off their seed corn for the future.

Let me just mention that in the discretionary appropriations, which in this bill total $13.9 billion for the next fiscal year, if we just take a look at the Farm Credit and the Farm Service Agency people, the people doing the work, administering the programs in our Farm Service Agency offices, and the loans and so forth that are being made, there is an increase of less than one-fifth of 1 percent over the prior year.

If we really take a look at what it is taking to hold agricultural America together today in this severely depressed economy in the rural countryside, we will find that the amounts in this bill are one-third below what was spent during this fiscal year and the last fiscal year as we attempted to prop up the disasters going on out there with the emergency bills that we were forced to pass outside the regular budget process.

So this a very lean bill that truly will not meet the needs of rural America. We may be forced again into one of these extra budgetary sessions to try to figure out how we are going to prop up rural America in the months ahead.

Let me also mention that the bill does try to meet the administration's request for the Food and Drug Administration to process additional drug approvals and to increase the safety of our food supply, with all the additional imports that are coming in here as well as pathogens found in food.

We increased funding for the Food Safety and Inspection Service, very important to the health of the American people, and to some rural housing and rural development accounts, as well as for agricultural research and pest and disease control through the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service as well as the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

But, more importantly, on the minus side there is no provision in this bill for any of the emergency assistance provided to rural America during this fiscal year. We do not continue any support for market support, nor any of the subsidies for the crop insurance premiums or the extra funds we provided to the Secretary of Agriculture to lift surplus commodities off the marketplace to try to get prices to rise in this country.

So the situation facing our farmers in this bill is that, well, we really do not take care of them. We sort of continue things the way they were, and we may be forced to come back later in the year in order to deal with the hemorrhage that is occurring across this country.

Let me also mention that in this bill we will probably be forced to reduce county office staff by another 650 staff positions. I think this is truly tragic, because we have got backlogs around the country of farmers waiting to receive payments after months and months because of disasters that have occurred from coast to coast.

[Time: 13:45]

So reducing these staffing levels really does not make much sense, and yet it is the truth that is buried inside this bill.

Further, the bill reduces funding for food aid programs, which are so important to support people around the world who live at the edge of hunger, but also to aid rural America. In fact, we lift surplus during this year that was sent to Russia; we have tried to assist the Kosovo refugees in the emergency supplemental that just passed, but there is nothing in this bill that continues that kind of additional surplus purchase. In fact, it will be reduced.

So the gentleman from New Mexico (Mr. SKEEN) and our subcommittee have certainly tried to do what was best under the hand that we were dealt, but the bill falls far short of what is needed to address the urgent problems facing farmers across America.

One thing is certain, no matter what forum or legislative vehicle is chosen, it is essential that Congress act today at least to move this bill forward and to move the first appropriation bill through this session of Congress. We are now approaching Memorial Day.

Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.

1:37 PM EDT

Marcy Kaptur, D-OH 9th

Ms. KAPTUR. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Chairman, I rise to acknowledge the hard work of the gentleman from New Mexico (Mr. SKEEN), the chairman of the Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies, members of our subcommittee, as well as the staff for their leadership, including our new staff director, Hank Moore, who has worked so hard this year.

This bill makes a reasonable effort to apportion the limited resources available to our subcommittee to keep our Nation at the leading edge for food, fiber, new fuels, and forest production, as well as the counts relating to research, trade and food safety.

May I begin by reminding my colleagues that food is not produced at the local grocery store. There is no question that agriculture and food processing are America's leading industries. Our farmers and our agricultural sector remain the most productive on the face of the Earth. They well understand, as we do, how difficult it is to maintain our Nation's commitment to excellence in agriculture in tight budgetary times.

While on balance this bill seems like a reasonable effort to stretch a limited sum of money as far as possible, and I would encourage my colleagues to vote for this bill, we simply disagree on the levels of support needed for priority programs, including the Women, Infants and Children feeding program; the Natural Resource Conservation Service, the primary conservation operation in this country; and other programs like farmland protection which were not able to be funded at all in this bill,

nor was the school breakfast pilot program that the administration requested.

We must also keep in mind that this bill simply does not do enough to address the Depression-level conditions affecting many sectors of rural America from coast to coast, whether we are talking about the Salinas Valley, cattle country in Florida, hog producing country in the Midwest, cotton fields in Texas, the list goes on and on.

This bill simply is an exceedingly limited response to an extremely serious situation afflicting many sectors of the farm economy across our Nation. As we consider this bill today, I would urge my colleagues to think about what is going on in rural America, as farmers continue to experience significant decreases in commodity prices. It started with wheat and with cattle, and it spread to the feed grains, to oil seeds, to cotton, to pork, and even now the dairy sectors.

At the same time, the costs of production are not decreasing. In fact, they are increasing. Total farm debt has risen now to over $170 billion at the end of last year, up nearly 9 percent over the last 2 years.

That means people are borrowing against their accumulated equity to make up for their lack of ability to receive a price for their product in the market. In fact, farmland values began declining in 1998, not a good sign.

We know that USDA, the Department of Agriculture predicts the greatest strain this year will be on field crops. We know that wheat, corn, soybean, upland cotton, and rice crops experienced about a 17 percent drop last year; and they project that this year, 27 percent, there will be a 27 percent drop in prices from prior year averages.

So we have a real tender situation here, which frankly this bill does not address. This bill puts blinders onto what is happening in rural America and basically says, well, we really do not have the money, so let us just continue like it was in years past, which will not solve the real situation out there. [Page: H3542]

Overall, this bill does a number of useful things, but it can hardly be considered adequate. It is moving in the right direction but falls far short of the mark. All I can say is that our Nation has a responsibility beyond this bill to help a sector of our economy so vital to our national security.

What is really happening in our country, as more bankruptcies occur in rural America, is the average age of farmers has now risen to 55. People are making live decisions out there about whether or not they are going to hold on to the farm or sell it off for another suburban development. This is not a good sign for America in the 21st Century. People really should not be selling off their seed corn for the future.

Let me just mention that in the discretionary appropriations, which in this bill total $13.9 billion for the next fiscal year, if we just take a look at the Farm Credit and the Farm Service Agency people, the people doing the work, administering the programs in our Farm Service Agency offices, and the loans and so forth that are being made, there is an increase of less than one-fifth of 1 percent over the prior year.

If we really take a look at what it is taking to hold agricultural America together today in this severely depressed economy in the rural countryside, we will find that the amounts in this bill are one-third below what was spent during this fiscal year and the last fiscal year as we attempted to prop up the disasters going on out there with the emergency bills that we were forced to pass outside the regular budget process.

So this a very lean bill that truly will not meet the needs of rural America. We may be forced again into one of these extra budgetary sessions to try to figure out how we are going to prop up rural America in the months ahead.

Let me also mention that the bill does try to meet the administration's request for the Food and Drug Administration to process additional drug approvals and to increase the safety of our food supply, with all the additional imports that are coming in here as well as pathogens found in food.

We increased funding for the Food Safety and Inspection Service, very important to the health of the American people, and to some rural housing and rural development accounts, as well as for agricultural research and pest and disease control through the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service as well as the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

But, more importantly, on the minus side there is no provision in this bill for any of the emergency assistance provided to rural America during this fiscal year. We do not continue any support for market support, nor any of the subsidies for the crop insurance premiums or the extra funds we provided to the Secretary of Agriculture to lift surplus commodities off the marketplace to try to get prices to rise in this country.

So the situation facing our farmers in this bill is that, well, we really do not take care of them. We sort of continue things the way they were, and we may be forced to come back later in the year in order to deal with the hemorrhage that is occurring across this country.

Let me also mention that in this bill we will probably be forced to reduce county office staff by another 650 staff positions. I think this is truly tragic, because we have got backlogs around the country of farmers waiting to receive payments after months and months because of disasters that have occurred from coast to coast.

[Time: 13:45]

So reducing these staffing levels really does not make much sense, and yet it is the truth that is buried inside this bill.

Further, the bill reduces funding for food aid programs, which are so important to support people around the world who live at the edge of hunger, but also to aid rural America. In fact, we lift surplus during this year that was sent to Russia; we have tried to assist the Kosovo refugees in the emergency supplemental that just passed, but there is nothing in this bill that continues that kind of additional surplus purchase. In fact, it will be reduced.

So the gentleman from New Mexico (Mr. SKEEN) and our subcommittee have certainly tried to do what was best under the hand that we were dealt, but the bill falls far short of what is needed to address the urgent problems facing farmers across America.

One thing is certain, no matter what forum or legislative vehicle is chosen, it is essential that Congress act today at least to move this bill forward and to move the first appropriation bill through this session of Congress. We are now approaching Memorial Day.

Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.

1:46 PM EDT

Jo Ann Emerson, R-MO 8th

Mrs. EMERSON. Mr. Chairman, I want to take a moment to express my appreciation to the gentleman from New Mexico (Mr. SKEEN) for the hard work he has done in putting together this piece of legislation before us today.

Given the tight budget constraints that we face, the chairman has had to make difficult decisions and balance a lot of different needs. He knows, and I think all our subcommittee members know, that this bill will not, as the gentlewoman from Ohio (Ms. KAPTUR) said, address all of the many urgent needs that are there out on the farm right now. Funds are desperately needed for farm programs because of the low prices and tough market conditions for farmers and ranchers all over the country.

However, I think the gentleman from New Mexico has worked with the numbers that he was given and done a tremendous job and the best job possible to meet the many needs of farmers and ranchers, and I just want to thank him for the outstanding job he has done.

Let me just take a minute too to highlight some of the aspects of this bill that are critically important to agriculture. Total dollars for agriculture research are up by $61 million. The bill rejects the cuts in Hatch Act and extension research funding that were proposed by the administration. Export programs, such as P.L. 480, Titles I and II, are funded at or near last year's levels, again rejecting large cuts by the administration.

Many farm State Members of Congress have expressed a concern, as I have, about increased concentration in agriculture markets, and I am pleased this bill includes a $636,000 increase for packer competition and industry concentration, as well as $750,000 strictly for poultry compliance activities. There is much needed oversight and enforcement money to ensure our beef, pork and poultry producers are treated fairly.

Now, I personally believe that we should do more and have mandatory price reporting for livestock, but this is a function of the authorizing committee, not the Committee on Appropriations, and I will look forward to working with my colleague from Ohio (Ms. KAPTUR) on this legislation later on this year.

Our bill also increases farm loan accounts, such as farm ownership, farm operating, and emergency loans from $2.3 billion to $3 billion. Not enough, and we will probably need more later, but because there is an increasing demand for these loans due to the hardships in the farm economy, we need the money now and, as I said, we will need more later.

For soybean producers in Missouri and around the country there is continued funding needed to fight the cyst nematode pest. Continued research will help develop soybean varieties that are resistant to the yield and profit endangering pest.

I would simply add this is an extremely tough time for our farmers and ranchers. As the gentlewoman from Ohio noted, this is an issue of national security. My farmers tell me that it is as bad as it has been in decades. Not years ago, but decades. And while this bill does not address all of the problems in the farm economy, particularly as it relates to the staffing in the Farm Services Agency and the National Resource Conservation Service, it is a positive step in the right direction and I would

urge a strong ``yes'' on the bill.

1:46 PM EDT

Jo Ann Emerson, R-MO 8th

Mrs. EMERSON. Mr. Chairman, I want to take a moment to express my appreciation to the gentleman from New Mexico (Mr. SKEEN) for the hard work he has done in putting together this piece of legislation before us today.

Given the tight budget constraints that we face, the chairman has had to make difficult decisions and balance a lot of different needs. He knows, and I think all our subcommittee members know, that this bill will not, as the gentlewoman from Ohio (Ms. KAPTUR) said, address all of the many urgent needs that are there out on the farm right now. Funds are desperately needed for farm programs because of the low prices and tough market conditions for farmers and ranchers all over the country.

However, I think the gentleman from New Mexico has worked with the numbers that he was given and done a tremendous job and the best job possible to meet the many needs of farmers and ranchers, and I just want to thank him for the outstanding job he has done.

Let me just take a minute too to highlight some of the aspects of this bill that are critically important to agriculture. Total dollars for agriculture research are up by $61 million. The bill rejects the cuts in Hatch Act and extension research funding that were proposed by the administration. Export programs, such as P.L. 480, Titles I and II, are funded at or near last year's levels, again rejecting large cuts by the administration.

Many farm State Members of Congress have expressed a concern, as I have, about increased concentration in agriculture markets, and I am pleased this bill includes a $636,000 increase for packer competition and industry concentration, as well as $750,000 strictly for poultry compliance activities. There is much needed oversight and enforcement money to ensure our beef, pork and poultry producers are treated fairly.

Now, I personally believe that we should do more and have mandatory price reporting for livestock, but this is a function of the authorizing committee, not the Committee on Appropriations, and I will look forward to working with my colleague from Ohio (Ms. KAPTUR) on this legislation later on this year.

Our bill also increases farm loan accounts, such as farm ownership, farm operating, and emergency loans from $2.3 billion to $3 billion. Not enough, and we will probably need more later, but because there is an increasing demand for these loans due to the hardships in the farm economy, we need the money now and, as I said, we will need more later.

For soybean producers in Missouri and around the country there is continued funding needed to fight the cyst nematode pest. Continued research will help develop soybean varieties that are resistant to the yield and profit endangering pest.

I would simply add this is an extremely tough time for our farmers and ranchers. As the gentlewoman from Ohio noted, this is an issue of national security. My farmers tell me that it is as bad as it has been in decades. Not years ago, but decades. And while this bill does not address all of the problems in the farm economy, particularly as it relates to the staffing in the Farm Services Agency and the National Resource Conservation Service, it is a positive step in the right direction and I would

urge a strong ``yes'' on the bill.

1:50 PM EDT

Lynn Woolsey, D-CA 6th

Ms. WOOLSEY. Mr. Chairman, today I am disappointed and I am outraged. I am almost at a loss for words. [Page: H3543]

I am angry because this bill does not include the school breakfast pilot program. The school breakfast pilot program tests the benefits of making breakfast available at school to all children in early grades. It was authorized in the William F. Goodling Nutrition Reauthorization Act, and it is included in the President's budget.

As this Nation searches for ways to make our schools safer, surely, surely we want to consider all reasonable ways to improve students' behavior. Well, two studies have already shown that kids who eat breakfast improve both their grades and their behavior at school. So why are some of my colleagues opposed to an official study to evaluate what happens in a school when all the students start the day with a good breakfast?

I plan to fight this and I plan to keep working with the committee, but I want to talk about the whys on this. The answer may be because we already know that school breakfast should be offered by schools as a learning tool, just like a book, just like a computer. It may be that some of my colleagues are too concerned with keeping our schools just the way they have always been, so they fight against any proposals for change. Or it may be that children just do not count enough.

Mr. Chairman, as this Nation, as this body searches for ways to make our schools safer and better for our children, surely we want to consider all reasonable ways to improve students' behavior. The school breakfast program would help us with that, so I will continue to fight, I will continue to work with my colleagues in support of the school breakfast program on the appropriations committee.

1:50 PM EDT

Lynn Woolsey, D-CA 6th

Ms. WOOLSEY. Mr. Chairman, today I am disappointed and I am outraged. I am almost at a loss for words. [Page: H3543]

I am angry because this bill does not include the school breakfast pilot program. The school breakfast pilot program tests the benefits of making breakfast available at school to all children in early grades. It was authorized in the William F. Goodling Nutrition Reauthorization Act, and it is included in the President's budget.

As this Nation searches for ways to make our schools safer, surely, surely we want to consider all reasonable ways to improve students' behavior. Well, two studies have already shown that kids who eat breakfast improve both their grades and their behavior at school. So why are some of my colleagues opposed to an official study to evaluate what happens in a school when all the students start the day with a good breakfast?

I plan to fight this and I plan to keep working with the committee, but I want to talk about the whys on this. The answer may be because we already know that school breakfast should be offered by schools as a learning tool, just like a book, just like a computer. It may be that some of my colleagues are too concerned with keeping our schools just the way they have always been, so they fight against any proposals for change. Or it may be that children just do not count enough.

Mr. Chairman, as this Nation, as this body searches for ways to make our schools safer and better for our children, surely we want to consider all reasonable ways to improve students' behavior. The school breakfast program would help us with that, so I will continue to fight, I will continue to work with my colleagues in support of the school breakfast program on the appropriations committee.

1:52 PM EDT

Marcy Kaptur, D-OH 9th

Ms. KAPTUR. Mr. Chairman, I wanted to thank the gentlewoman for fighting so hard for this school breakfast program and to say that with her leadership the members of the subcommittee and the full committee have attempted to do what was necessary.

Unfortunately, the administration did not provide us with some of the information that we were expecting. The gentlewoman from Connecticut (Ms. DELAURO) worked with us at the subcommittee and full committee levels, and it is our firm intention to try to take this issue into conference to see if we cannot do something to move this pilot project forward.

But I just want to say to the gentlewoman that without her interest and research and the deep dedication that she has shown, we would not be this far. I know we are not where the gentlewoman wants us to be yet, but without her leadership we would not be anywhere. We hope that as we move towards conference we might be able to accommodate some of this.

1:53 PM EDT

Jack Kingston, R-GA 1st

Mr. KINGSTON. Mr. Chairman, I stand in support of the agriculture appropriations bill. I serve on the subcommittee and can say on a firsthand basis that the staff, on a bipartisan basis, went through this legislation thoroughly to be sure that we have balanced the needs of the American farm, agricultural community, and the American grocery consuming public.

Last year's bill was $61.7 billion. This year the legislation is down to $60.8 billion. A lot of this goes back, Mr. Chairman, to the 1997 bipartisan budget agreement, which was pushed by Democrat and Republican leaders alike with the full support of the President. And to get back to that budget agreement, it had some good and it had some bad, as my colleagues can imagine in any huge piece of legislation which Democrats and Republicans come together on.

Now, unfortunately, we are seeing from both sides of the aisle people who are peeling away from the agreement, people who voted for the budget agreement that are now lamenting the fact that it actually does call for some belt tightening here and there and they are beginning to walk away from it.

But the staff on this subcommittee, and again on a bipartisan basis, tried to put together the actual requests of 280 Members asking for specific projects in their districts or of national scope. And it was quite a balancing act, because we do have a certain amount of institutional schizophrenia. We have, on one hand, people who say I want to cut the budget and I want it cut now, but oh, no, not in my district, not in the district that I happen to represent. And, by the way, I want to fund this

particular project, which of course is not pork, it is just that it is economic development when it is in my district. So this bill, like all appropriation bills, is a balancing act.

Now, Mr. Chairman, the American farmer is facing probably unprecedented challenges. They have challenges getting credit. Businesses in America, small businesses to Fortune 500 companies, have to have credit. They have to borrow both short- and long-term money. Yet for farmers, they cannot get long-term money any more. Banks, and rightfully so, facing the realities of making a profit on the farm, they will not lend them money any more. So the farmers are scrambling, and that is one of the huge

challenges that is facing farmers today.

A second challenge is international competition. I represent Milen, Georgia, little Jenkins County, Georgia, and farmers there can grow oats and do it very inexpensively and very efficiently. And yet at the end of the season, they can still go down to Brunswick, Georgia, and buy imported oats cheaper than they can grow it in America. And that is just one commodity.

That is the story with so many of our imports now. And one reason is that our foreign competitors are heavily, heavily subsidized in comparison to the American farmers, where we have about $3.9 billion of this $60 billion bill that is spent on actual commodity-type programs.

People say, oh, let us cut out the farm ``subsidies'', yet most of these are not true subsidies. But even so, it is impossible to compete against foreign competitors, even with the modern technology and all the farming techniques we know.

A third challenge that our farmers are facing is that simply of the weather. We do not get the rain that we need in every growing season. Last year Screven County, Georgia, town seat of Sylvania, lost $17 million because of the drought; $17 million in farm losses. Now, that is not much for a big country like America, but tell that to somebody in Sylvania, Georgia, and tell that to a third generation farmer who is going to lose his farm because of that drought.

Unfortunately, in Georgia this year, we are facing possibly another bad season because of the lack of rain. We need to help our farmers on all these challenges, Mr. Chairman, and this bill tries to do that. It is not going to do it all the way. It will not do it as well as we would like, but it takes a step in the right direction.

There are a lot of things in this bill, though. There is some money for water projects, there is money for conservation projects. One thing not in the bill, that I want to try to work with the minority and the majority representatives on, is giving some tax credit for precision agriculture. Because if we can move our farmers towards obtaining precision agriculture equipment, then they would know exactly how much fertilizer to apply, exactly how much water to use, and exactly what their profits

are per acre so that they can make Ag production as absolutely efficient as possible.

I would also like to see more tax credits for farmers in other areas. I would like to see them taxed more on the use of their land rather than on the potential use of their land. I represent Coastal Georgia, it is a huge growth area. Bulloch County last year, 17 percent; Effingham County, 42 percent; Bryan County, 52 percent. All these are traditionally agricultural counties and now they are becoming urban or suburban counties. There are few family farms left, but they are being taxed out of

existence.

[Time: 14:00]

I would like to see some tax help for farmers in that direction. I would like to see land taxed on its actual use and not its percentage use. And I of course, Mr. Chairman, would love to see some estate tax or death tax relief so that family farms can be passed from one generation or the other.

This is not going to happen in this bill but this bill takes us in the right direction. Right now, Mr. Chairman, [Page: H3544]

less than 2 percent of the American population is feeding 100 percent of the American population and a substantial portion of the world. Does our ag policy work? I would say yes, it does. Americans spend about 11 cents on the dollar earned on food and groceries. We spend more than that on entertainment, jet skis, CDs, movies, vacations. We

are spending more on recreation than we do on food and groceries.

So the ag policy is working. It has a lot of good potential in it for improvements. We are going to continue to work on that on a bipartisan basis. I urge my Members to support the bill.

1:53 PM EDT

Jack Kingston, R-GA 1st

Mr. KINGSTON. Mr. Chairman, I stand in support of the agriculture appropriations bill. I serve on the subcommittee and can say on a firsthand basis that the staff, on a bipartisan basis, went through this legislation thoroughly to be sure that we have balanced the needs of the American farm, agricultural community, and the American grocery consuming public.

Last year's bill was $61.7 billion. This year the legislation is down to $60.8 billion. A lot of this goes back, Mr. Chairman, to the 1997 bipartisan budget agreement, which was pushed by Democrat and Republican leaders alike with the full support of the President. And to get back to that budget agreement, it had some good and it had some bad, as my colleagues can imagine in any huge piece of legislation which Democrats and Republicans come together on.

Now, unfortunately, we are seeing from both sides of the aisle people who are peeling away from the agreement, people who voted for the budget agreement that are now lamenting the fact that it actually does call for some belt tightening here and there and they are beginning to walk away from it.

But the staff on this subcommittee, and again on a bipartisan basis, tried to put together the actual requests of 280 Members asking for specific projects in their districts or of national scope. And it was quite a balancing act, because we do have a certain amount of institutional schizophrenia. We have, on one hand, people who say I want to cut the budget and I want it cut now, but oh, no, not in my district, not in the district that I happen to represent. And, by the way, I want to fund this

particular project, which of course is not pork, it is just that it is economic development when it is in my district. So this bill, like all appropriation bills, is a balancing act.

Now, Mr. Chairman, the American farmer is facing probably unprecedented challenges. They have challenges getting credit. Businesses in America, small businesses to Fortune 500 companies, have to have credit. They have to borrow both short- and long-term money. Yet for farmers, they cannot get long-term money any more. Banks, and rightfully so, facing the realities of making a profit on the farm, they will not lend them money any more. So the farmers are scrambling, and that is one of the huge

challenges that is facing farmers today.

A second challenge is international competition. I represent Milen, Georgia, little Jenkins County, Georgia, and farmers there can grow oats and do it very inexpensively and very efficiently. And yet at the end of the season, they can still go down to Brunswick, Georgia, and buy imported oats cheaper than they can grow it in America. And that is just one commodity.

That is the story with so many of our imports now. And one reason is that our foreign competitors are heavily, heavily subsidized in comparison to the American farmers, where we have about $3.9 billion of this $60 billion bill that is spent on actual commodity-type programs.

People say, oh, let us cut out the farm ``subsidies'', yet most of these are not true subsidies. But even so, it is impossible to compete against foreign competitors, even with the modern technology and all the farming techniques we know.

A third challenge that our farmers are facing is that simply of the weather. We do not get the rain that we need in every growing season. Last year Screven County, Georgia, town seat of Sylvania, lost $17 million because of the drought; $17 million in farm losses. Now, that is not much for a big country like America, but tell that to somebody in Sylvania, Georgia, and tell that to a third generation farmer who is going to lose his farm because of that drought.

Unfortunately, in Georgia this year, we are facing possibly another bad season because of the lack of rain. We need to help our farmers on all these challenges, Mr. Chairman, and this bill tries to do that. It is not going to do it all the way. It will not do it as well as we would like, but it takes a step in the right direction.

There are a lot of things in this bill, though. There is some money for water projects, there is money for conservation projects. One thing not in the bill, that I want to try to work with the minority and the majority representatives on, is giving some tax credit for precision agriculture. Because if we can move our farmers towards obtaining precision agriculture equipment, then they would know exactly how much fertilizer to apply, exactly how much water to use, and exactly what their profits

are per acre so that they can make Ag production as absolutely efficient as possible.

I would also like to see more tax credits for farmers in other areas. I would like to see them taxed more on the use of their land rather than on the potential use of their land. I represent Coastal Georgia, it is a huge growth area. Bulloch County last year, 17 percent; Effingham County, 42 percent; Bryan County, 52 percent. All these are traditionally agricultural counties and now they are becoming urban or suburban counties. There are few family farms left, but they are being taxed out of

existence.

[Time: 14:00]

I would like to see some tax help for farmers in that direction. I would like to see land taxed on its actual use and not its percentage use. And I of course, Mr. Chairman, would love to see some estate tax or death tax relief so that family farms can be passed from one generation or the other.

This is not going to happen in this bill but this bill takes us in the right direction. Right now, Mr. Chairman, [Page: H3544]

less than 2 percent of the American population is feeding 100 percent of the American population and a substantial portion of the world. Does our ag policy work? I would say yes, it does. Americans spend about 11 cents on the dollar earned on food and groceries. We spend more than that on entertainment, jet skis, CDs, movies, vacations. We

are spending more on recreation than we do on food and groceries.

So the ag policy is working. It has a lot of good potential in it for improvements. We are going to continue to work on that on a bipartisan basis. I urge my Members to support the bill.

2:00 PM EDT

Maurice Hinchey, D-NY 26th

Mr. HINCHEY. Mr. Chairman, I want to express my appreciation to the gentleman from New Mexico (Mr. SKEEN), the chairman of our subcommittee, for the care and craftsmanship with which he worked to put this bill together. It has been a pleasure to work with him as a member of the Subcommittee on Agriculture.

Unfortunately, the constraints within which we have had to operate, constraints imposed by the leadership here in the Congress and traceable directly back to the agriculture bill of 1996, the so-called Freedom to Farm bill, have made it impossible to put together an agriculture appropriations bill here that meets the needs of the agriculture community, the needs of our farmers and the needs of our consumers across the country.

As I said, this is directly attributable to the constraints that flow from the so-called Freedom to Farm bill, which is not in fact a Freedom to Farm bill, but in many cases it has been a freedom to fail bill, almost a guarantee of failure. Farm prices in the farm belts all across our country are at near-Depression prices. Farmers are finding themselves in situations that verge on the desperate and in many cases they are in fact desperate. Farmers are being forced out of business because they

cannot sell their crops at a price that is higher than the cost that they had to incur for putting those crops in the ground. It is an absolutely impossible situation.

We cannot have an agriculture that is sustained in a global economy where other countries are subsidizing their agriculture and making certain creating circumstances within which agricultural people are going to prosper. We have failed to do that. In fact, we have taken all the safeguards that our agricultural community has had away from them. We did so in that Freedom to Farm bill in 1996. We need to go back and correct those mistakes, and we need to do so soon. The longer we wait, the more

desperate the circumstances will become.

Are we committed to family farms, or do we want farms that are corporate in nature exclusively across this country? Do we want farmers to make a living, or do we want it all to be processors? Do we want to have an agricultural community that is healthy and strong and providing the food and fiber that our people need domestically here to sustain their lives?

These are the basic questions that are before us. And, unfortunately, this bill, not through any fault of the chairman or members of the subcommittee, but only because of the constraints imposed upon the subcommittee and constraints in the Freedom to Farm bill have made it impossible to meet these needs this year. We need to go back and meet them and we need to do so soon, intelligently, and thoroughly.

2:00 PM EDT

Maurice Hinchey, D-NY 26th

Mr. HINCHEY. Mr. Chairman, I want to express my appreciation to the gentleman from New Mexico (Mr. SKEEN), the chairman of our subcommittee, for the care and craftsmanship with which he worked to put this bill together. It has been a pleasure to work with him as a member of the Subcommittee on Agriculture.

Unfortunately, the constraints within which we have had to operate, constraints imposed by the leadership here in the Congress and traceable directly back to the agriculture bill of 1996, the so-called Freedom to Farm bill, have made it impossible to put together an agriculture appropriations bill here that meets the needs of the agriculture community, the needs of our farmers and the needs of our consumers across the country.

As I said, this is directly attributable to the constraints that flow from the so-called Freedom to Farm bill, which is not in fact a Freedom to Farm bill, but in many cases it has been a freedom to fail bill, almost a guarantee of failure. Farm prices in the farm belts all across our country are at near-Depression prices. Farmers are finding themselves in situations that verge on the desperate and in many cases they are in fact desperate. Farmers are being forced out of business because they

cannot sell their crops at a price that is higher than the cost that they had to incur for putting those crops in the ground. It is an absolutely impossible situation.

We cannot have an agriculture that is sustained in a global economy where other countries are subsidizing their agriculture and making certain creating circumstances within which agricultural people are going to prosper. We have failed to do that. In fact, we have taken all the safeguards that our agricultural community has had away from them. We did so in that Freedom to Farm bill in 1996. We need to go back and correct those mistakes, and we need to do so soon. The longer we wait, the more

desperate the circumstances will become.

Are we committed to family farms, or do we want farms that are corporate in nature exclusively across this country? Do we want farmers to make a living, or do we want it all to be processors? Do we want to have an agricultural community that is healthy and strong and providing the food and fiber that our people need domestically here to sustain their lives?

These are the basic questions that are before us. And, unfortunately, this bill, not through any fault of the chairman or members of the subcommittee, but only because of the constraints imposed upon the subcommittee and constraints in the Freedom to Farm bill have made it impossible to meet these needs this year. We need to go back and meet them and we need to do so soon, intelligently, and thoroughly.

2:01 PM EDT

Maurice Hinchey, D-NY 26th

Mr. HINCHEY. Mr. Chairman, I want to express my appreciation to the gentleman from New Mexico (Mr. SKEEN), the chairman of our subcommittee, for the care and craftsmanship with which he worked to put this bill together. It has been a pleasure to work with him as a member of the Subcommittee on Agriculture.

Unfortunately, the constraints within which we have had to operate, constraints imposed by the leadership here in the Congress and traceable directly back to the agriculture bill of 1996, the so-called Freedom to Farm bill, have made it impossible to put together an agriculture appropriations bill here that meets the needs of the agriculture community, the needs of our farmers and the needs of our consumers across the country.

As I said, this is directly attributable to the constraints that flow from the so-called Freedom to Farm bill, which is not in fact a Freedom to Farm bill, but in many cases it has been a freedom to fail bill, almost a guarantee of failure. Farm prices in the farm belts all across our country are at near-Depression prices. Farmers are finding themselves in situations that verge on the desperate and in many cases they are in fact desperate. Farmers are being forced out of business because they

cannot sell their crops at a price that is higher than the cost that they had to incur for putting those crops in the ground. It is an absolutely impossible situation.

We cannot have an agriculture that is sustained in a global economy where other countries are subsidizing their agriculture and making certain creating circumstances within which agricultural people are going to prosper. We have failed to do that. In fact, we have taken all the safeguards that our agricultural community has had away from them. We did so in that Freedom to Farm bill in 1996. We need to go back and correct those mistakes, and we need to do so soon. The longer we wait, the more

desperate the circumstances will become.

Are we committed to family farms, or do we want farms that are corporate in nature exclusively across this country? Do we want farmers to make a living, or do we want it all to be processors? Do we want to have an agricultural community that is healthy and strong and providing the food and fiber that our people need domestically here to sustain their lives?

These are the basic questions that are before us. And, unfortunately, this bill, not through any fault of the chairman or members of the subcommittee, but only because of the constraints imposed upon the subcommittee and constraints in the Freedom to Farm bill have made it impossible to meet these needs this year. We need to go back and meet them and we need to do so soon, intelligently, and thoroughly.

2:03 PM EDT

Joe Skeen, R-NM 2nd

Mr. SKEEN. Mr. Chairman, I share the gentleman's concern for the future of the critical work that is being done at the Niles Protection Center.

As I understand it, the USDA has not made a final decision. And, of course, we have a long way to go before we produce a conference report with a final number for APHIS. We have provided the account in question with a significant increase for fiscal year 2000 at a time of a very tight budget, and I hope the USDA will take note of our efforts and our concerns for the Niles facility.

Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman for his efforts, and I promise to continue working with him in conference on this matter.

2:03 PM EDT

Fred Upton, R-MI 6th

Mr. UPTON. Mr. Chairman, I would wish to engage in a colloquy with my good friend from New Mexico (Mr. SKEEN).

Mr. SKEEN, I appreciate your willingness to discuss the Department of Agriculture Plant Protection Center located in Niles, Michigan. I know that you share my belief that this center has a very important mission, finding natural means to combat pests. The role of this facility among plant protection centers is important to American agriculture and is of enormous value to the agriculture industry throughout the Midwest.

The work the employees do in Niles is particularly important in light of the probable loss of pesticides as a result of the implementation of the Food Quality Protection Act. In fact, just this past year the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Michigan State University have formed partnerships with the laboratory at Niles aimed at promoting biological control options. This is a prime example of partnering and cost-sharing between State and Federal agriculture interests using the best strengths

of both partners to benefit agriculture.

I am greatly troubled that within the past 2 years the budget of this facility has been cut by 26 percent, the staff reduced from 45 to 19 employees. Especially troubling is the fact that this facility receives its funding through the biocontrol line item, which tends to receive increased funding and is scheduled to get a 22 percent increase in fiscal year 2000. I firmly believe that any further reductions in the budget at this Niles facility would be a serious error and would jeopardize the

strength of agriculture throughout the Midwest.

Mr. Chairman, I yield to my friend the gentleman from New Mexico (Mr. SKEEN) for a response.

2:03 PM EDT

Fred Upton, R-MI 6th

Mr. UPTON. Mr. Chairman, I would wish to engage in a colloquy with my good friend from New Mexico (Mr. SKEEN).

Mr. SKEEN, I appreciate your willingness to discuss the Department of Agriculture Plant Protection Center located in Niles, Michigan. I know that you share my belief that this center has a very important mission, finding natural means to combat pests. The role of this facility among plant protection centers is important to American agriculture and is of enormous value to the agriculture industry throughout the Midwest.

The work the employees do in Niles is particularly important in light of the probable loss of pesticides as a result of the implementation of the Food Quality Protection Act. In fact, just this past year the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Michigan State University have formed partnerships with the laboratory at Niles aimed at promoting biological control options. This is a prime example of partnering and cost-sharing between State and Federal agriculture interests using the best strengths

of both partners to benefit agriculture.

I am greatly troubled that within the past 2 years the budget of this facility has been cut by 26 percent, the staff reduced from 45 to 19 employees. Especially troubling is the fact that this facility receives its funding through the biocontrol line item, which tends to receive increased funding and is scheduled to get a 22 percent increase in fiscal year 2000. I firmly believe that any further reductions in the budget at this Niles facility would be a serious error and would jeopardize the

strength of agriculture throughout the Midwest.

Mr. Chairman, I yield to my friend the gentleman from New Mexico (Mr. SKEEN) for a response.

2:04 PM EDT

Joe Skeen, R-NM 2nd

Mr. SKEEN. Mr. Chairman, I share the gentleman's concern for the future of the critical work that is being done at the Niles Protection Center.

As I understand it, the USDA has not made a final decision. And, of course, we have a long way to go before we produce a conference report with a final number for APHIS. We have provided the account in question with a significant increase for fiscal year 2000 at a time of a very tight budget, and I hope the USDA will take note of our efforts and our concerns for the Niles facility.

Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman for his efforts, and I promise to continue working with him in conference on this matter.

2:05 PM EDT

Joe Skeen, R-NM 2nd

Mr. SKEEN. Mr. Chairman, I share the gentleman's concern for the future of the critical work that is being done at the Niles Protection Center.

As I understand it, the USDA has not made a final decision. And, of course, we have a long way to go before we produce a conference report with a final number for APHIS. We have provided the account in question with a significant increase for fiscal year 2000 at a time of a very tight budget, and I hope the USDA will take note of our efforts and our concerns for the Niles facility.

Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman for his efforts, and I promise to continue working with him in conference on this matter.

2:06 PM EDT

Marcy Kaptur, D-OH 9th

Ms. KAPTUR. Mr. Chairman, I want to say to the chairman of our subcommittee, and to the gentleman from Michigan (Mr. UPTON) that we so much support the efforts that he is making for this Niles Center, also on behalf of the gentleman from Indiana (Mr. ROEMER). We have that special situation where Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio all meet. And the services provided through the Center serve the entire country certainly, especially the Midwest. And I want to compliment the gentleman for

drawing our attention to it and placing it in the debate today.

2:06 PM EDT

Marcy Kaptur, D-OH 9th

Ms. KAPTUR. Mr. Chairman, I want to say to the chairman of our subcommittee, and to the gentleman from Michigan (Mr. UPTON) that we so much support the efforts that he is making for this Niles Center, also on behalf of the gentleman from Indiana (Mr. ROEMER). We have that special situation where Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio all meet. And the services provided through the Center serve the entire country certainly, especially the Midwest. And I want to compliment the gentleman for

drawing our attention to it and placing it in the debate today.

2:11 PM EDT

Tom Coburn M.D., R-OK 2nd

Mr. COBURN. Mr. Chairman, I want to say from the outset, I come from a farm district of rural northeastern Oklahoma that has a great deal of farmers. And I believe, overall, that the appropriators have done a good job on this bill. But they have not done good enough.

We passed two supplemental emergency bills for farmers in this last Congress, almost $12 billion, and I am not objecting to the fact that we did that. What I am objecting to is the fact that that money was paid for out of Social Security receipts. There is no question about it. And what I want to focus on is, where is the money going to come for the increase in this year over the true baseline last year? It is going to come from Social Security.

I want to spend a minute just showing everybody the kind of problems we have. Most young people under 35 believe in UFOs before they believe they are going to get their Social Security money. And do my colleagues know what? They are probably right. This is the Social Security 1999 Trust Report. And what we see in black is the amount of money that is coming into the government in excess of what is being paid out, and my colleagues will note as of 2014 that starts to turn red.

Last year we spent approximately $29 billion of that money. The Congress appropriated $29 billion of excess Social Security money for appropriation bills. Twenty-nine billion was taken out of the money that was coming in supposedly dedicated for Social Security.

The other thing that I would like to discuss is we do not have a real surplus. What we have is a Washington surplus, because if we exclude Social Security money, last year we ran a $29 billion deficit. The debt to our children and our grandchildren is rising at the rate, as we speak, of $275 million a day. So it is not about whether we should do the right things for our farmers. We should, and probably we should spend more money on our farmers than what we are spending. The question is, how do

we spend that money?

If we look at what is about to happen this year, the surplus for the year 2000, as estimated by the Social Security Administration, is $141 billion. Based on the plans that we see, it is a conservative estimate that $45 billion of that will be spent. That is Social Security money that people are working every day putting into that, with the trust to think that that money is going to be there for them when they retire. And that does not come close to addressing the issue, can they live on their

Social Security payment now?

In my practice in Muskogee, Oklahoma, when I see seniors, I have seniors who are totally dependent on Social Security. And do my colleagues know what they do? They do not buy their medicine because they do not have enough money. They buy food before they buy medicine.

[Time: 14:15]

So not only do we have a problem in taking the money that is supposed to be for Social Security, the benefit that we have out there in many instances is not enough for our seniors to live on, let alone live healthily on.

Finally, the point I would make is that we have 102,000 Agricultural Department employees. We have another 87,000 contract employees for the Department of Agriculture. That comes to 189,000 employees in the United States. If we take 260 million people, it is pretty quick you can come up, for every 1,500 people in the United States, we have at least one Agricultural Department employee. Do we need all those employees? What we have said is we cannot cut the number of employees in the Agriculture

Department, we cannot have less employees, and we cannot get more money directly to the farmer, because we are chewing up a vast majority of the money trying to give them the money. It is not about not taking care of our farmers. If we expect to protect Social Security money, which on both sides of the aisle, save two Members of this body, voted for budgets that said they would protect 100 percent of Social Security, then we have to bring this bill back to the level of spending last year. What that requires is about $260 million

worth of trimming amendments to be able to do that. I propose to offer offsetting amendments that will bring us down to last year's level. When we are at that level, then I will stop offering amendments. Until we get to that level, I plan on continuing to offer amendments.

This is not done in any precocious fashion. My intention is to help us all do what we all voted, save two Members, to do, and, that is, to preserve Social Security. The best way I know of doing that is the first appropriation bill, to make a first start on that.

2:11 PM EDT

Tom Coburn M.D., R-OK 2nd

Mr. COBURN. Mr. Chairman, I want to say from the outset, I come from a farm district of rural northeastern Oklahoma that has a great deal of farmers. And I believe, overall, that the appropriators have done a good job on this bill. But they have not done good enough.

We passed two supplemental emergency bills for farmers in this last Congress, almost $12 billion, and I am not objecting to the fact that we did that. What I am objecting to is the fact that that money was paid for out of Social Security receipts. There is no question about it. And what I want to focus on is, where is the money going to come for the increase in this year over the true baseline last year? It is going to come from Social Security.

I want to spend a minute just showing everybody the kind of problems we have. Most young people under 35 believe in UFOs before they believe they are going to get their Social Security money. And do my colleagues know what? They are probably right. This is the Social Security 1999 Trust Report. And what we see in black is the amount of money that is coming into the government in excess of what is being paid out, and my colleagues will note as of 2014 that starts to turn red.

Last year we spent approximately $29 billion of that money. The Congress appropriated $29 billion of excess Social Security money for appropriation bills. Twenty-nine billion was taken out of the money that was coming in supposedly dedicated for Social Security.

The other thing that I would like to discuss is we do not have a real surplus. What we have is a Washington surplus, because if we exclude Social Security money, last year we ran a $29 billion deficit. The debt to our children and our grandchildren is rising at the rate, as we speak, of $275 million a day. So it is not about whether we should do the right things for our farmers. We should, and probably we should spend more money on our farmers than what we are spending. The question is, how do

we spend that money?

If we look at what is about to happen this year, the surplus for the year 2000, as estimated by the Social Security Administration, is $141 billion. Based on the plans that we see, it is a conservative estimate that $45 billion of that will be spent. That is Social Security money that people are working every day putting into that, with the trust to think that that money is going to be there for them when they retire. And that does not come close to addressing the issue, can they live on their

Social Security payment now?

In my practice in Muskogee, Oklahoma, when I see seniors, I have seniors who are totally dependent on Social Security. And do my colleagues know what they do? They do not buy their medicine because they do not have enough money. They buy food before they buy medicine.

[Time: 14:15]

So not only do we have a problem in taking the money that is supposed to be for Social Security, the benefit that we have out there in many instances is not enough for our seniors to live on, let alone live healthily on.

Finally, the point I would make is that we have 102,000 Agricultural Department employees. We have another 87,000 contract employees for the Department of Agriculture. That comes to 189,000 employees in the United States. If we take 260 million people, it is pretty quick you can come up, for every 1,500 people in the United States, we have at least one Agricultural Department employee. Do we need all those employees? What we have said is we cannot cut the number of employees in the Agriculture

Department, we cannot have less employees, and we cannot get more money directly to the farmer, because we are chewing up a vast majority of the money trying to give them the money. It is not about not taking care of our farmers. If we expect to protect Social Security money, which on both sides of the aisle, save two Members of this body, voted for budgets that said they would protect 100 percent of Social Security, then we have to bring this bill back to the level of spending last year. What that requires is about $260 million

worth of trimming amendments to be able to do that. I propose to offer offsetting amendments that will bring us down to last year's level. When we are at that level, then I will stop offering amendments. Until we get to that level, I plan on continuing to offer amendments.

This is not done in any precocious fashion. My intention is to help us all do what we all voted, save two Members, to do, and, that is, to preserve Social Security. The best way I know of doing that is the first appropriation bill, to make a first start on that.

2:17 PM EDT

Joe Skeen, R-NM 2nd

Mr. SKEEN. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Chairman, the reason we have a 1-year appropriations bill is so that the Congress can look at the spending each year and adjust accordingly as the Constitution requires. We do not rubber stamp the administration's request and we do not automatically approve last year's level of spending. This bill has a modest increase in spending over fiscal year 1999, and it is about 30 percent of the increase requested by the administration. I have heard several hundred requests for more spending by my

colleagues, both Republicans and Democrats. Frankly this bill does not come near to paying for all those requests. But we did the best we could and I certainly hope that no one who wrote us asking for spending will support this amendment.

In this bill, there is additional money for food safety, for conservation, for rural housing and for a lot of programs that benefit all our constituents. Our bill funds about 130 accounts with many more subaccounts and individual projects. It is always possible to find fault with individual items in the bill, but this bill is a cooperative effort. I believe it reflects the kind of legislation that a majority of our Members want to see for their constituents.

Mr. Chairman, I would like to remind all my colleagues that although we refer to this as the agricultural appropriations bill, the majority of funding goes to nonproduction agricultural programs. This bill pays for badly needed housing, water and sewer, and economic development in rural America. It pays for human nutrition programs [Page: H3546]

for children and the elderly. It pays for conservation programs that benefit watersheds in urban and rural areas. It pays

for food safety and medical device inspection programs that are literally life and death matters. That is why I oppose this amendment and why I ask my colleagues to do the same.

Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.

2:17 PM EDT

Joe Skeen, R-NM 2nd

Mr. SKEEN. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Chairman, the reason we have a 1-year appropriations bill is so that the Congress can look at the spending each year and adjust accordingly as the Constitution requires. We do not rubber stamp the administration's request and we do not automatically approve last year's level of spending. This bill has a modest increase in spending over fiscal year 1999, and it is about 30 percent of the increase requested by the administration. I have heard several hundred requests for more spending by my

colleagues, both Republicans and Democrats. Frankly this bill does not come near to paying for all those requests. But we did the best we could and I certainly hope that no one who wrote us asking for spending will support this amendment.

In this bill, there is additional money for food safety, for conservation, for rural housing and for a lot of programs that benefit all our constituents. Our bill funds about 130 accounts with many more subaccounts and individual projects. It is always possible to find fault with individual items in the bill, but this bill is a cooperative effort. I believe it reflects the kind of legislation that a majority of our Members want to see for their constituents.

Mr. Chairman, I would like to remind all my colleagues that although we refer to this as the agricultural appropriations bill, the majority of funding goes to nonproduction agricultural programs. This bill pays for badly needed housing, water and sewer, and economic development in rural America. It pays for human nutrition programs [Page: H3546]

for children and the elderly. It pays for conservation programs that benefit watersheds in urban and rural areas. It pays

for food safety and medical device inspection programs that are literally life and death matters. That is why I oppose this amendment and why I ask my colleagues to do the same.

Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.

2:17 PM EDT

Joe Skeen, R-NM 2nd

Mr. SKEEN. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Chairman, the reason we have a 1-year appropriations bill is so that the Congress can look at the spending each year and adjust accordingly as the Constitution requires. We do not rubber stamp the administration's request and we do not automatically approve last year's level of spending. This bill has a modest increase in spending over fiscal year 1999, and it is about 30 percent of the increase requested by the administration. I have heard several hundred requests for more spending by my

colleagues, both Republicans and Democrats. Frankly this bill does not come near to paying for all those requests. But we did the best we could and I certainly hope that no one who wrote us asking for spending will support this amendment.

In this bill, there is additional money for food safety, for conservation, for rural housing and for a lot of programs that benefit all our constituents. Our bill funds about 130 accounts with many more subaccounts and individual projects. It is always possible to find fault with individual items in the bill, but this bill is a cooperative effort. I believe it reflects the kind of legislation that a majority of our Members want to see for their constituents.

Mr. Chairman, I would like to remind all my colleagues that although we refer to this as the agricultural appropriations bill, the majority of funding goes to nonproduction agricultural programs. This bill pays for badly needed housing, water and sewer, and economic development in rural America. It pays for human nutrition programs [Page: H3546]

for children and the elderly. It pays for conservation programs that benefit watersheds in urban and rural areas. It pays

for food safety and medical device inspection programs that are literally life and death matters. That is why I oppose this amendment and why I ask my colleagues to do the same.

Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.

2:19 PM EDT

Marcy Kaptur, D-OH 9th

Ms. KAPTUR. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume. I also wanted to make a couple of comments about the prior gentleman's remarks. No department percentagewise inside this government of the United States has been cut more than the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In 1993, there were 129,500 employees. Today the request of the department would fund 107,700. This is a reduction of over 21,800 positions. I would like any other department of the United States based on the amount

of funds that it receives through the taxpayers to take this kind of cut. There have been over 35,000 positions cut in the U.S. Forest Service, battling forest fires. Look what has happened across this country over the last several years. In meat inspection, so vital to the health of this country, over 9,700 meat inspectors have been cut. I would say to the gentleman, we have had

over a 30 percent cut in the staffing levels at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. So if you are looking for cuts, believe me, this agency is hemorrhaging. Part of the damage being caused in Oklahoma and other places in this country is because we are not paying attention to the production side of the equation inside the United States in rural America, and that is a true tragedy.

Mr. Chairman, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from Texas (Mr. STENHOLM), a very respected member of the authorizing committee.

(Mr. STENHOLM asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)

2:26 PM EDT

Allen Boyd, D-FL 2nd

Mr. BOYD. Mr. Chairman, I want to thank the gentleman from New Mexico [Page: H3547]

(Mr. SKEEN) for yielding me this time and for his leadership in putting this appropriations bill together, and also to the gentlewoman from Ohio (Ms. KAPTUR) for her leadership with the gentleman from New Mexico.

As many of my colleagues know, Mr. Chairman, I have spent all of my productive life in agriculture and have followed these proceedings in Congress for many, many years as related to a national agricultural policy. In 1996, this Congress decided to write a new farm bill which my people back home called Freedom to Fail. Prior to that time, many of us came to Washington and asked the Congress to take a long, hard look before it changed national ag policy. We had a policy in this country that worked.

Obviously there was a consolidation of farming over the years like there has been in every industry that weeded out some of the less efficient operators. But certainly if you were efficient and a good operator, under the policy that existed, you could make a living in agriculture. It established and kept a strong agricultural economy for our Nation. I stand today speaking in support of the bill that is brought to this floor by the gentleman from New Mexico and the gentlewoman from Ohio. They are working within the confines of the Balanced Budget Agreement that we put in place in 1997. Actually I think we were treated

very well in these allocations, given the confines of the budget that we are working under. As the gentleman from Texas (Mr. STENHOLM) said earlier, had we passed the Blue Dog budget which many of the folks on both sides of the aisle voted for, we would have a few more bucks to play with here. But I

think really the debate today is not about whether this appropriations bill is good or bad, because it is absolutely the best that we can do under the circumstances that we have been presented with. But it has to do with a larger picture, and, that is, what is the national agricultural policy of this Nation?

I just want to throw out a couple of things for Members' consideration. Number one is, in 1996 when that farm bill was written, the farmers were promised if they would give up their safety net, they were promised in exchange a loosening of regulations and, secondly, opening of world markets. Well, they gave up the safety net, but in both cases they did not get what they were promised. They did not get a loosening of regulations and they certainly have not gotten an opening of the world markets.

[Time: 14:30]

Now many people want to blame the administration. I do not think the administration is to be blamed here. It was the Congress that wrote this piece of legislation, and it is the Congress that ought to go revisit it.

I think, Mr. Chairman, that I would like to strongly encourage the Members to support this piece of legislation, and I want to thank the gentleman from New Mexico (Mr. SKEEN) and the gentlewoman from Ohio (Ms. KAPTUR) for their work.

2:26 PM EDT

Allen Boyd, D-FL 2nd

Mr. BOYD. Mr. Chairman, I want to thank the gentleman from New Mexico [Page: H3547]

(Mr. SKEEN) for yielding me this time and for his leadership in putting this appropriations bill together, and also to the gentlewoman from Ohio (Ms. KAPTUR) for her leadership with the gentleman from New Mexico.

As many of my colleagues know, Mr. Chairman, I have spent all of my productive life in agriculture and have followed these proceedings in Congress for many, many years as related to a national agricultural policy. In 1996, this Congress decided to write a new farm bill which my people back home called Freedom to Fail. Prior to that time, many of us came to Washington and asked the Congress to take a long, hard look before it changed national ag policy. We had a policy in this country that worked.

Obviously there was a consolidation of farming over the years like there has been in every industry that weeded out some of the less efficient operators. But certainly if you were efficient and a good operator, under the policy that existed, you could make a living in agriculture. It established and kept a strong agricultural economy for our Nation. I stand today speaking in support of the bill that is brought to this floor by the gentleman from New Mexico and the gentlewoman from Ohio. They are working within the confines of the Balanced Budget Agreement that we put in place in 1997. Actually I think we were treated

very well in these allocations, given the confines of the budget that we are working under. As the gentleman from Texas (Mr. STENHOLM) said earlier, had we passed the Blue Dog budget which many of the folks on both sides of the aisle voted for, we would have a few more bucks to play with here. But I

think really the debate today is not about whether this appropriations bill is good or bad, because it is absolutely the best that we can do under the circumstances that we have been presented with. But it has to do with a larger picture, and, that is, what is the national agricultural policy of this Nation?

I just want to throw out a couple of things for Members' consideration. Number one is, in 1996 when that farm bill was written, the farmers were promised if they would give up their safety net, they were promised in exchange a loosening of regulations and, secondly, opening of world markets. Well, they gave up the safety net, but in both cases they did not get what they were promised. They did not get a loosening of regulations and they certainly have not gotten an opening of the world markets.

[Time: 14:30]

Now many people want to blame the administration. I do not think the administration is to be blamed here. It was the Congress that wrote this piece of legislation, and it is the Congress that ought to go revisit it.

I think, Mr. Chairman, that I would like to strongly encourage the Members to support this piece of legislation, and I want to thank the gentleman from New Mexico (Mr. SKEEN) and the gentlewoman from Ohio (Ms. KAPTUR) for their work.

2:30 PM EDT

Robert Berry, D-AR 1st

Mr. BERRY. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentlewoman from Ohio (Ms. KAPTUR) for yielding this time to me, and I want to thank the chairman and the ranking member of this committee for the hard work that they have done.

Mr. Chairman, America is the greatest Nation that has ever been today because of our ability to domestically produce safe, affordable and abundant agriculture commodities. The American farmer is the most productive ever anywhere in the world. The American farmer only asks for a chance. If we will just give him a chance, he will do the rest.

A combination of factors have contributed to historically low commodity prices that are being received by our American farmers today. We have got a crisis in rural America, and we need to face that crisis. This bill is a good effort to begin that. It a shame that we do not have more money in this bill for America's farmers, but I know that it is the best that the appropriators could do with what they had to work with.

Congress has an obligation to protect the food and fiber security of America. Current budget restrictions and resulting appropriations for agriculture do not allow for adequate devotion of financial resources to properly address the crisis that American agriculture faces today. We need to commit to America's farmers to protect the food and fiber security that our country has historically provided.

I firmly believe, Mr. Chairman, that the further we get from our rural agrarian roots that Thomas Jefferson envisioned, the more social problems we have, and it is something that is of great concern to me. But this is just another reason why we should do the best we can to fund the Department of Agriculture and support America's farmers.

2:30 PM EDT

Robert Berry, D-AR 1st

Mr. BERRY. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentlewoman from Ohio (Ms. KAPTUR) for yielding this time to me, and I want to thank the chairman and the ranking member of this committee for the hard work that they have done.

Mr. Chairman, America is the greatest Nation that has ever been today because of our ability to domestically produce safe, affordable and abundant agriculture commodities. The American farmer is the most productive ever anywhere in the world. The American farmer only asks for a chance. If we will just give him a chance, he will do the rest.

A combination of factors have contributed to historically low commodity prices that are being received by our American farmers today. We have got a crisis in rural America, and we need to face that crisis. This bill is a good effort to begin that. It a shame that we do not have more money in this bill for America's farmers, but I know that it is the best that the appropriators could do with what they had to work with.

Congress has an obligation to protect the food and fiber security of America. Current budget restrictions and resulting appropriations for agriculture do not allow for adequate devotion of financial resources to properly address the crisis that American agriculture faces today. We need to commit to America's farmers to protect the food and fiber security that our country has historically provided.

I firmly believe, Mr. Chairman, that the further we get from our rural agrarian roots that Thomas Jefferson envisioned, the more social problems we have, and it is something that is of great concern to me. But this is just another reason why we should do the best we can to fund the Department of Agriculture and support America's farmers.

2:35 PM EDT

Eva M Clayton, D-NC 1st

Mrs. CLAYTON. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentlewoman from Ohio for the time, and I want to rise in support of this appropriation bill, and I want to commend both the gentleman from New Mexico (Mr. SKEEN) and the ranking member of the subcommittee agriculture appropriations.

I rise in support of the bill because there are many things in this bill that is very much needed in agriculture. It provides obviously the money of more than $60 billion in agriculture programs including moneys for research, including moneys for farm service administration, including moneys for rural housing, including money for WIC and nutrition programs, agricultural research; so many parts of this program are essential for the infrastructure and ongoing agriculture and research program.

However I also raise issues that are deficits. There are still lack of funding of recognition in these program. One in particular I think, the ranking member from agriculture raised the issue about Cotton Step 2. Obviously that is very, very important to my district in terms [Page: H3548]

of having the opportunity to market in that area. I am sensitive to the cooperative research is $14.2 million below the request, and I know all the land grant schools throughout

the United States are indeed in need of those monies, and the conservation program again is underfunded, and yet there are more requirements in requiring them to implement the programs. They do not have the resources to do that, and I just say to our colleagues that if they expect for a full implementation, they have to have the resources.

Again, the whole issue of disadvantaged farmers I know will be addressed, and I am appreciative of that, but I want to say now to both the gentleman from New Mexico (Mr. SKEEN) and to the ranking member I will be glad to support that amendment. There are issues that I think we can still revisit, hopefully, from the amendment process, but I want to commend both of them and say to my colleagues who think that we are spending too much money that I think we have the unique position of being

first out of the box and being most conservative so we get to be kind of whipping boy, whipping girl, and I think that is unfair to rural America, I think it is certainly unfair to the farmers that feed us and provide fiber for us.

2:35 PM EDT

Eva M Clayton, D-NC 1st

Mrs. CLAYTON. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentlewoman from Ohio for the time, and I want to rise in support of this appropriation bill, and I want to commend both the gentleman from New Mexico (Mr. SKEEN) and the ranking member of the subcommittee agriculture appropriations.

I rise in support of the bill because there are many things in this bill that is very much needed in agriculture. It provides obviously the money of more than $60 billion in agriculture programs including moneys for research, including moneys for farm service administration, including moneys for rural housing, including money for WIC and nutrition programs, agricultural research; so many parts of this program are essential for the infrastructure and ongoing agriculture and research program.

However I also raise issues that are deficits. There are still lack of funding of recognition in these program. One in particular I think, the ranking member from agriculture raised the issue about Cotton Step 2. Obviously that is very, very important to my district in terms [Page: H3548]

of having the opportunity to market in that area. I am sensitive to the cooperative research is $14.2 million below the request, and I know all the land grant schools throughout

the United States are indeed in need of those monies, and the conservation program again is underfunded, and yet there are more requirements in requiring them to implement the programs. They do not have the resources to do that, and I just say to our colleagues that if they expect for a full implementation, they have to have the resources.

Again, the whole issue of disadvantaged farmers I know will be addressed, and I am appreciative of that, but I want to say now to both the gentleman from New Mexico (Mr. SKEEN) and to the ranking member I will be glad to support that amendment. There are issues that I think we can still revisit, hopefully, from the amendment process, but I want to commend both of them and say to my colleagues who think that we are spending too much money that I think we have the unique position of being

first out of the box and being most conservative so we get to be kind of whipping boy, whipping girl, and I think that is unfair to rural America, I think it is certainly unfair to the farmers that feed us and provide fiber for us.

2:38 PM EDT

George Nethercutt, R-WA 5th

Mr. NETHERCUTT. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding this time to me, and I want to congratulate him and the ranking member on this subcommittee, a subcommittee on which I am proud to serve, for their good work in trying to craft a bill that stays within the budget caps.

Agriculture has some very difficult challenges this year and next, and what I hope this bill will do is provide adequate resources for our farmers, not only in the area of agriculture research, but in other areas in which we think the free market system has a better chance to work.

One of the things I am disappointed that the bill does not contain, I am going to introduce an amendment later about it, is the issue of sanctions relief. I feel we need to be in a position to open world markets that are currently shut off from our farmers, and this may not be the vehicle, but we have to open those markets.

So open markets, adequate funding of agriculture research, and there will be some challenges to that today, but I think we have to resist those challenges to government-funded research. It is critically important to our farmers.

So, I urge support of this bill. I appreciate the good work of the gentleman from Mexico and the people of our subcommittee, and I urge its passage.

2:38 PM EDT

George Nethercutt, R-WA 5th

Mr. NETHERCUTT. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding this time to me, and I want to congratulate him and the ranking member on this subcommittee, a subcommittee on which I am proud to serve, for their good work in trying to craft a bill that stays within the budget caps.

Agriculture has some very difficult challenges this year and next, and what I hope this bill will do is provide adequate resources for our farmers, not only in the area of agriculture research, but in other areas in which we think the free market system has a better chance to work.

One of the things I am disappointed that the bill does not contain, I am going to introduce an amendment later about it, is the issue of sanctions relief. I feel we need to be in a position to open world markets that are currently shut off from our farmers, and this may not be the vehicle, but we have to open those markets.

So open markets, adequate funding of agriculture research, and there will be some challenges to that today, but I think we have to resist those challenges to government-funded research. It is critically important to our farmers.

So, I urge support of this bill. I appreciate the good work of the gentleman from Mexico and the people of our subcommittee, and I urge its passage.

2:39 PM EDT

Bernie Sanders, I-VT

Mr. SANDERS. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentlewoman for yielding this time to me, and I want to congratulate the chairman and the ranking member for the outstanding work they have done on this bill. I think, however, there is no disagreement that the committee is forced to operate under very severe budget constraints. There is no debate about that, and I would simply want to remind every Member of the U.S. House of Representatives that in this great country, in this country which is wealthier

than any other country in the history of the world, today there are millions and millions of Americans who are hungry, who are hungry, and what does it say about our national priorities that we see a proliferation of millionaires and billionaires, that we see a situation when some want to provide over a trillion dollars in tax breaks over the next 15 years, and yet hospital administrators tell us that when senior citizens go to the hospital, they

are finding many seniors who are suffering from malnutrition? What does it say about our country when school administrators tell us that when kids get to school in the morning many of these children come from families which do not have enough money to provide them with adequate breakfast or adequate lunches, that these kids are unable to do the school work that they otherwise would be able to do? They fall off the wagon, and they get into trouble.

Is that what America is about? I think not.

Now I understand the limitations that there are in this bill because of the overall budget, but I would hope that every Member of Congress understands that the day has got to come and come soon when this country wipes out the disgrace of having hungry people within our wonderful Nation.

Second of all, Mr. Chairman, within that context we must be aware of the plight that family farmers in rural America are suffering from one end of this country to the other. Other people have made this point, and I want to repeat it. If we do not stand up and protect the small family farmer, we are going to lose that important aspect of what makes this country great.

2:39 PM EDT

Bernie Sanders, I-VT

Mr. SANDERS. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentlewoman for yielding this time to me, and I want to congratulate the chairman and the ranking member for the outstanding work they have done on this bill. I think, however, there is no disagreement that the committee is forced to operate under very severe budget constraints. There is no debate about that, and I would simply want to remind every Member of the U.S. House of Representatives that in this great country, in this country which is wealthier

than any other country in the history of the world, today there are millions and millions of Americans who are hungry, who are hungry, and what does it say about our national priorities that we see a proliferation of millionaires and billionaires, that we see a situation when some want to provide over a trillion dollars in tax breaks over the next 15 years, and yet hospital administrators tell us that when senior citizens go to the hospital, they

are finding many seniors who are suffering from malnutrition? What does it say about our country when school administrators tell us that when kids get to school in the morning many of these children come from families which do not have enough money to provide them with adequate breakfast or adequate lunches, that these kids are unable to do the school work that they otherwise would be able to do? They fall off the wagon, and they get into trouble.

Is that what America is about? I think not.

Now I understand the limitations that there are in this bill because of the overall budget, but I would hope that every Member of Congress understands that the day has got to come and come soon when this country wipes out the disgrace of having hungry people within our wonderful Nation.

Second of all, Mr. Chairman, within that context we must be aware of the plight that family farmers in rural America are suffering from one end of this country to the other. Other people have made this point, and I want to repeat it. If we do not stand up and protect the small family farmer, we are going to lose that important aspect of what makes this country great.

2:43 PM EDT

Jerry Moran, R-KS 1st

Mr. MORAN of Kansas. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the last word.

Mr. Chairman, I rise today to commend the chairman and the ranking member for their efforts in appropriations in this appropriation bill related to agriculture. Obviously a Member of Congress who comes from the district I come from is very concerned about the agriculture economy, and the impact of this appropriation bill upon my State is significant, and I commend the committee for its efforts.

[Time: 14:45]

I do want to raise a topic that is of great concern to me and to the many small businesses that I represent within the agribusiness community of Kansas. I have an amendment to be offered later today that would allow small meat processors with sales under $2.5 million and less than 10 employees to have an additional year before their compliance with USDA's HACCP, the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points Inspection System would take effect and impact them.

This amendment would apply only to the smallest local meat processors and would in no way change the inspection system in our large nationwide plants.

There are significant problems out there. In fact, the U.S. Small Business Administration has concluded in its letter to USDA that something must be done. Their conclusion in their letter to USDA, dated July 5 of 1995, says, ``The Office of Advocacy at the SBA remains deeply troubled by the failure of FSIS to analyze properly the impact of HACCP on small businesses.'' Requires, among other things, that an agency tailor its regulations to impose the least burden on businesses of differing sizes.

There are many alternatives which USDA could pursue which have been either rejected or overlooked by FSIS and which would reduce the compliance burden on our smallest businesses.

This is Sam's Locker across the country in the smallest communities of our Nation, and many of them are going out of business, really on a weekly basis. I pick up the paper and the local locker plant in one of my communities across Kansas is closing its doors because of the cost and burden of compliance with this rule which will take effect January 1 of the year 2000.

The Small Business Administration says that the smallest firms face the greatest burden in both absolute and per-unit costs and suggests that there are a number of alternatives which USDA has not explored. So I intend later today to offer an amendment that would delay the implementation for approximately 9 months of this last phase of HACCP regulations.

2:43 PM EDT

Jerry Moran, R-KS 1st

Mr. MORAN of Kansas. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the last word.

Mr. Chairman, I rise today to commend the chairman and the ranking member for their efforts in appropriations in this appropriation bill related to agriculture. Obviously a Member of Congress who comes from the district I come from is very concerned about the agriculture economy, and the impact of this appropriation bill upon my State is significant, and I commend the committee for its efforts.

[Time: 14:45]

I do want to raise a topic that is of great concern to me and to the many small businesses that I represent within the agribusiness community of Kansas. I have an amendment to be offered later today that would allow small meat processors with sales under $2.5 million and less than 10 employees to have an additional year before their compliance with USDA's HACCP, the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points Inspection System would take effect and impact them.

This amendment would apply only to the smallest local meat processors and would in no way change the inspection system in our large nationwide plants.

There are significant problems out there. In fact, the U.S. Small Business Administration has concluded in its letter to USDA that something must be done. Their conclusion in their letter to USDA, dated July 5 of 1995, says, ``The Office of Advocacy at the SBA remains deeply troubled by the failure of FSIS to analyze properly the impact of HACCP on small businesses.'' Requires, among other things, that an agency tailor its regulations to impose the least burden on businesses of differing sizes.

There are many alternatives which USDA could pursue which have been either rejected or overlooked by FSIS and which would reduce the compliance burden on our smallest businesses.

This is Sam's Locker across the country in the smallest communities of our Nation, and many of them are going out of business, really on a weekly basis. I pick up the paper and the local locker plant in one of my communities across Kansas is closing its doors because of the cost and burden of compliance with this rule which will take effect January 1 of the year 2000.

The Small Business Administration says that the smallest firms face the greatest burden in both absolute and per-unit costs and suggests that there are a number of alternatives which USDA has not explored. So I intend later today to offer an amendment that would delay the implementation for approximately 9 months of this last phase of HACCP regulations.

2:44 PM EDT

Jerry Moran, R-KS 1st

Mr. MORAN of Kansas. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the last word.

Mr. Chairman, I rise today to commend the chairman and the ranking member for their efforts in appropriations in this appropriation bill related to agriculture. Obviously a Member of Congress who comes from the district I come from is very concerned about the agriculture economy, and the impact of this appropriation bill upon my State is significant, and I commend the committee for its efforts.

[Time: 14:45]

I do want to raise a topic that is of great concern to me and to the many small businesses that I represent within the agribusiness community of Kansas. I have an amendment to be offered later today that would allow small meat processors with sales under $2.5 million and less than 10 employees to have an additional year before their compliance with USDA's HACCP, the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points Inspection System would take effect and impact them.

This amendment would apply only to the smallest local meat processors and would in no way change the inspection system in our large nationwide plants.

There are significant problems out there. In fact, the U.S. Small Business Administration has concluded in its letter to USDA that something must be done. Their conclusion in their letter to USDA, dated July 5 of 1995, says, ``The Office of Advocacy at the SBA remains deeply troubled by the failure of FSIS to analyze properly the impact of HACCP on small businesses.'' Requires, among other things, that an agency tailor its regulations to impose the least burden on businesses of differing sizes.

There are many alternatives which USDA could pursue which have been either rejected or overlooked by FSIS and which would reduce the compliance burden on our smallest businesses.

This is Sam's Locker across the country in the smallest communities of our Nation, and many of them are going out of business, really on a weekly basis. I pick up the paper and the local locker plant in one of my communities across Kansas is closing its doors because of the cost and burden of compliance with this rule which will take effect January 1 of the year 2000.

The Small Business Administration says that the smallest firms face the greatest burden in both absolute and per-unit costs and suggests that there are a number of alternatives which USDA has not explored. So I intend later today to offer an amendment that would delay the implementation for approximately 9 months of this last phase of HACCP regulations.