11:23 AM EDT

Joe Skeen, R-NM 2nd

Mr. SKEEN. Mr. Speaker, pursuant to House Resolution 317, I call up the conference report on the bill (H.R. 1906), making appropriations for Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2000, and for other purposes, and ask for its immediate consideration.

The Clerk read the title of the bill.

11:25 AM EDT

Joe Skeen, R-NM 2nd

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

Mr. Speaker, I feel somewhat like Mrs. Custer, and how she would have felt about Indian relief, after we have gone through this exercise earlier. But I am pleased to bring before the House today the conference report on H.R. 1906, providing appropriations for Agriculture, Rural Development, the Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies.

This bill does a lot of good for important nutrition, research, and rural development programs and still meets our conference allocations on discretionary and mandatory spending.

Basic research on agriculture, food safety and nutrition has been increased by $80 million. The Farm Service Agency budget is also increased by $80 million, and this will be especially important to farms affected by the drought, the floods and the low prices.

Loan authorizations for the Rural Housing Service are increased by $330 million. The program to provide loans and grants for rural schools and medical facilities, to allow them to access the resources of large urban institutions, is increased by two-thirds to $20.7 million.

Our feeding and nutrition programs are all increased or maintained at the 1999 levels. This report has $108 million for the WIC program over last year, and the direct appropriation for Food and Drug Administration is $70 million over last year.

We were able to make these increases by cutting administrative and management costs and by benefiting from lower loan costs in our farm and rural development programs.

Finally, this bill carries an additional title this year that provides about $8.7 billion in emergency assistance, including $1.2 billion for farm losses caused by natural disaster.

OMB Director Lew has promised an assessment of Hurricane Floyd damage [Page: H9218]

but indicated it may be some time before the assessment is completed. I expect we will be dealing with additional disaster needs in a future bill.

Once again I would like to thank all the members of our subcommittee and their staffs for their hard work and cooperation on this bill, which began with the budget presentation back in February.

I want to offer special thanks to the ranking member of the Committee on Appropriations, the distinguished gentleman from Wisconsin (Mr. OBEY), for his support, and a special thanks also to my good friend, the ranking member of the Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies, the distinguished gentlewoman from Ohio (Ms. KAPTUR). I know she has strong concerns regarding the conference report, but I want to make clear to every

Member that she is a strong supporter of rural America and that she deserves a share of the credit for the good that this bill will do.

Mr. Speaker, this is a bill that benefits every American every day, no matter where they live, whether it is FDA protecting the safety of our foods and medicines, or the nutrition programs for children and the elderly, or creating economic development in rural America. This bill is for urban and suburban Americans just as much as it is for the farmer and the rancher.

And, by the way, I think that everybody, every member of the United States, is a farmer by acquisition, because everybody I know knows more about farming than most farmers do.

I know some of our colleagues are concerned for what is not in the bill, particularly dairy policy and the relaxation of export sanctions to certain countries.

[Time: 11:30]

But if we all voted on the basis of what is not in a bill, I am not sure any legislation would ever get passed here. I would say to my colleagues that this is a good bipartisan bill, and it will benefit every one of their constituents.

This is the first day of the new fiscal year, and we need to put this bill to work immediately. Please support the good that is in this bill today and vote aye on the conference report.

Mr. Speaker, I include the following for the RECORD:

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

11:30 AM EDT

Marcy Kaptur, D-OH 9th

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

Mr. Speaker, let me commend my colleague, the gentleman from New Mexico (Mr. SKEEN), for his hard work on this bill, though I cannot support the bill. I think it is like a two-legged dog being brought to the floor of the Congress today.

Mr. Speaker, I will reserve my remarks until closing.

Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the distinguished gentleman from the great State of Minnesota (Mr. PETERSON), who has fought harder than any other Member here to try to get the needs of not just his district but rural America recognized.

11:30 AM EDT

Collin Peterson, D-MN 7th

Mr. PETERSON of Minnesota. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentlewoman for yielding me the time.

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to ask my colleagues to oppose this conference report. And I do that reluctantly.

I want to commend the chairman. He has been very fair and works hard on this. But I represent a part of America that has had disasters. Some of these people have lost their crops 6 years out of the last 7. And this bill does not address their problems. Frankly, I do not know what we are going to do if we do not get some help for these people up in this area.

There is a disaster component in this bill. In my judgment, it is not enough money to cover all of the things that have gone wrong with this country. I also do not think that it is structured in a way that is going to get at what people really need.

Also, we have got a price problem in this country, as everybody knows, in agriculture. Some of us that oppose Freedom to Farm said that we thought this was going to happen eventually, and it is here right now. And we all want to address that. But I do not know how I can go home and tell the people in Roseau County or Kittson County that it is more important that we put out money to people that have not been damaged by disaster, that have had bumper crops year after year after year and have sold

those bumper crops, received the AMPTA payments and then we are going to give them additional AMPTA payments, and we are not going to go out and help the people that have lost crops 5 or 6 or 7 years out of the last 7 years.

I do not know how I can go home and tell the people that this is a good bill, that this is something we should support. I do not know how my colleagues can do that. I wish they could come up and look in the eyes of these people and see what they are up against. We are not dealing with this the way we should. We are spending this money the wrong way. We are not spending enough money.

I would just implore my colleagues to defeat this bill, give us a chance to go back to the committee, and address these issues.

As I understand it, this was basically taken away from the subcommittee, and there was not even a chance for people to debate these multiple-year problems, to debate these other disaster problems. Defeat this conference report.

11:40 AM EDT

George Nethercutt, R-WA 5th

Mr. NETHERCUTT. Mr. Speaker, I thank the chairman of our subcommittee (Mr. SKEEN) for yielding me the time. He is a fine gentleman and has been eminently fair with me and I thank every other member of the subcommittee. I thank him for his dedication to agriculture.

Mr. Chairman, I speak today in support of this bill. I am going to vote for it. I think it is a good bill. It could be a much better bill, for the reasons that the gentleman from New York (Mr. WALSH) stated and I think the reasons that other Members may state here today, as well.

My concern has been not only with process but with policy relative to this particular measure as it relates to me as a member of the Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies. I felt for a long time that, in order to have the Freedom to Farm approach to agriculture policy succeed, we have to have freedom to market. Our farmers need to market overseas.

My State of Washington, the east side of the State of Washington, grows some of the best wheat crops and peas and lentil crops and potatoes and other commodities, apples and others, to compete with anybody in the world. But we are restricted, Mr. Speaker, because of an antique kind of a sanctions policy, unilateral sanctions policy, that hurts our farmers.

The power to change this policy rests with Congress. And we tried to do that on this bill, but the process did not allow it. I felt frustrated, frankly, that we could not have a good vote on this issue and let the Senate speak, as they have, Senator ASHCROFT, Senator HAGEL and others, Senator BROWNBACK, Senator DURBIN, Senator DORGAN, who spoke in favor of this change in policy, as well as people on our side, like the gentlewoman from Missouri (Mrs. EMERSON)

and the gentleman from New York (Mr. WALSH) and the gentleman from Arkansas (Mr. DICKEY) and others who feel that that policy is outdated.

It is nonsense, in my judgment, that we should not sell food and medicine to countries that others can sell to around the world. It hurts our farmers. It hurts us as a country I believe. And we can open up dictatorships and open up terrorist regimes, for that matter, if we can engage them and engage the people.

The measure that was ready to pass the subcommittee and the conference was no funding for government-to-government assistance. Absolutely not one dollar would go to the governments of Iran, Iraq, Cuba, or anyplace else. But there would be a funding option allowed in order to allow our farmers to get some coverage for the sale of their product overseas.

I fought the President on this in some respects. This administration threw up a roadblock with respect to completing the sanction relief that we had imposed. We want to work with the administration and the Democrats and the Republicans and our leadership to try to have this sanctions policy relief become a reality.

So I would urge my colleagues to support this policy in the future.

11:43 AM EDT

Marcy Kaptur, D-OH 9th

Ms. KAPTUR. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentlewoman from Connecticut (Ms. DELAURO), a distinguished member of the subcommittee who also was robbed of her rights to offer an amendment, as these proceedings were recessed.

11:43 AM EDT

Rosa DeLauro, D-CT 3rd

Ms. DeLAURO. Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to the agriculture appropriations conference report.

The process was unprecedented and heavy-handed. But the substance and the policy and final version reflects the majority leadership's lack of concern for farmers of America.

The summer's droughts and hurricanes have devastated thousands of farming families. In my own State of Connecticut, farmers suffered $41.6 million in losses. The pastures dried up. Fruit dropped. Trees and bushes and dairy production plummeted.

[Time: 11:45]

Farmers across the country are begging Congress to do something and we must do something. It is our responsibility. It is why we were elected. We come here to give voice to the people that we represent. Our constituents can only conclude from this conference report that we have been silent on their behalf.

This report includes only $1.2 billion in much needed emergency aid. But this is a short-term fix to a long-term problem, the lack of markets promised when the Freedom to Farm bill eliminated the farmers' safety net.

Committee members on both sides of the aisle were ready to address this issue with sanction relief, but the opportunity was snatched away. It is wrong to deny our farmers over $1 billion in new sales abroad, and it is wrong to punish innocent families, children, in other countries who suffer under repressive regimes by denying them food and medicine.

Finally, this report fails to reauthorize the Northeast Dairy Compact. Without that compact, Connecticut's farmers will lose $4.2 million a year as well as the security of stable prices to guarantee safe futures.

We are here to help farmers address short-term disasters and the long-term problems that threaten their survival. The health of our Nation is directly linked to agriculture's future. We must do more. I urge my colleagues to oppose the conference report.

11:50 AM EDT

Tom Latham, R-IA 5th

Mr. LATHAM. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman very much for yielding me this time.

Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of the agriculture appropriations conference agreement. This agreement will keep America's family farms afloat, fund critical research and protect the environment in some of our most fragile regions. Furthermore, this legislation includes language that dramatically improves competition for livestock producers.

Thanks to the cooperation of the gentleman from New Mexico (Mr. SKEEN), the gentleman from Texas (Mr. COMBEST) and determined colleagues in the Senate, in the other body, we were able to include mandatory price reporting for livestock in this package. This legislation will contribute to our efforts to revive the current farm economy. As anyone in Iowa can tell you, the difficulties associated with low grain prices have been compounded by low livestock prices to a devastating level

last December and January.

Today, America's farmers want to know if they are receiving fair compensation for their hard work. With this agreement, we have made the first step in assuring that they can. It is important that accurate information be available to the livestock industry in order for competitive markets to function properly. Without this pricing information, we risk supporting a business environment that gives too much control to a few. We cannot allow our Nation's farmers to be left without the tools they can

use to make sure they receive the best possible price for their livestock.

It is important to note that mandatory price reporting language included is the result of significant negotiations and represents a concerted effort to find consensus. Title 9 of the bill is identical to legislation that was ordered reported by the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry on July 29, 1999. The intent of these provisions and their attendant legislative history are explained in detail in that committee's report on the reported bill, S. 1672, and Senate Report 106-168.

Much of the language in this report was also the subject of painstaking negotiations and represents the consensus of a number of parties interested in mandatory price reporting legislation. I join all of these interested parties in directing the Department of Agriculture and the administration generally to this document for use in the correct interpretation and administration of this important law.

Mr. Speaker, this is an extremely important provision, and this bill does truly address as best we can under the budget constraints that we have the real problem we have in agriculture today, trying to get in a very timely manner dollars in the hands of farmers who so desperately need it. I just want to thank the chairman and the ranking member of the subcommittee, the chairman and ranking member of the full Committee on Appropriations, the staff on the subcommittee and my personal staff for

doing an outstanding job. There are problems obviously, but a lot of the issues that were not addressed should never be on this bill to start with.

11:53 AM EDT

Tim Holden, D-PA 6th

Mr. HOLDEN. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentlewoman for yielding me this time.

Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to the conference report. There is not a Member from either side of the aisle from the mid-Atlantic or northeastern States that can go home and look their farmers in the eye and say that this is a fair piece of legislation. It simply is not. $1.2 billion for all weather-related disasters simply does not add up to meet the needs of our farmers throughout the country. We have experienced a 100-year drought in the Northeast. In Pennsylvania alone, $700 million of

damage; New York, $370 million; Maine, $31 million; Ohio, $600 million. Combined in the mid-Atlantic and northeastern part of the country, $2.5 billion of losses from drought. Then we look at the terrible situation in North Carolina, what they are facing in flooding and how we need to help our friends and colleagues from North Carolina; early on in the year, the flooding in the upper Midwest.

Mr. Speaker, we were not trying to be greedy in this bill, we were just trying to ask for what our friends in other parts of the country received before in other emergency appropriation bills. We wanted 42 percent of our losses that were uninsured to be paid for with cash assistance and livestock assistance. $1.2 billion, Mr. Speaker, simply does not get there. I urge my colleagues to reject this conference report and give us the opportunity to do what is fair for the mid-Atlantic and northeastern

States.

11:58 AM EDT

Jo Ann Emerson, R-MO 8th

Mrs. EMERSON. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from New Mexico for his extraordinarily good work in very, very unordinary circumstances on this bill. As everyone has said, our farmers are facing the worst financial crisis in decades because of low prices, because of weather-related disasters, and unfortunately our current farm law does not provide a safety net for our producers. And so we will lose a lot of them this year, causing the very fabric, the very essence of our rural way of life to

be at risk.

And so with reluctance I say yes, we must pass this bill today. But I also want to say, as my colleagues have, as an ag conferee, the last 2 weeks have been gut wrenching, they have been heart wrenching, as our rights to write this bill were stolen from us. That makes me angry. I am deeply disappointed that we were not allowed to vote on lifting food and medicine embargoes against six foreign countries. We should have learned the lesson from the Soviet grain embargo that food should not be used

as a tool of foreign policy, that our farmers in America are the only losers in this battle. And we could not vote on fixing a problem for our dairy producers even though the vast majority of this body supports that fix.

Yes, Mr. Speaker, I am greatly disappointed, but the bill does have many good things in it for America's producers, for our ranchers and our farmers. They need our help today. They need financial assistance today. And so I urge a ``yes'' vote on the bill. I can only say in closing that we will continue the fight to lift embargoes and sanctions, we will continue the fight for our dairy farmers, because that fight, Mr. Speaker, has only just begun.

[Time: 12:00]

12:00 PM EDT

Marcy Kaptur, D-OH 9th

Ms. KAPTUR. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from North Carolina (Mr. PRICE) who has been such an advocate for the needs of farmers in his State as well as around our Nation.

12:00 PM EDT

David E. Price, D-NC 4th

Mr. PRICE of North Carolina. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentlewoman for yielding me this time, and I commend her for her hard work to focus attention and action on disaster relief in the bill. I think everyone in this body is aware of the disaster that has befallen our farmers, our citizens in North Carolina and other States up and down the Eastern Seaboard with Hurricane Dennis and Hurricane Floyd. Our communities have been severely damaged, our infrastructure, our farms.

Mr. Speaker, it is already estimated that the overall damages in North Carolina for this hurricane will exceed the 6 billion in damages we experienced with Hurricane Fran, which was our historical high point up to this year. Too many North Carolinians are still in shelters, and many have returned home or will return home to find out they have lost everything. Estimates from the United States Department of Agriculture and the North Carolina Department of Agriculture now are approaching 2 billion

in agricultural losses alone for North Carolina alone, $2 billion.

Now, consider the amount of disaster relief in this bill. When we look at that, Mr. Speaker, we realize how pitifully inadequate it is. It is $1.2 billion, and it is supposed to meet the needs of both drought and flood relief.

The State Departments of Agriculture in the Southeastern and Eastern States, drought States, have estimated that the need for drought assistance alone is $2.5 billion. That is before anyone had ever heard of Hurricane Floyd. And unlike aid to homeowners and businesses, direct aid cannot go to farmers unless we appropriate it in this or a comparable bill.

Farmers need immediate assistance, and we ought to give it to them, yet there was never any real opportunity for the conference to consider disaster assistance. Before the conference had sufficient opportunity to take up this issue, the bill was taken by the majority leadership from the hands of the conferees. So, Mr. Speaker, we are forced to ask, what are we going to do? How are we going to get this assistance to the people who so desperately need it?

Yesterday I offered, and the Committee on Appropriations approved, an amendment to the Labor HHS appropriations bill to provide 508 million for direct assistance to farmers in all the states affected by Hurricane Floyd for crop and livestock losses. The Labor-HHS bill is not the normal vehicle for agriculture disaster assistance, but fortunately, Appropriations Committee leaders, Mr. YOUNG and Mr. PORTER, as well as Mr. OBEY, accommodated us, and we got this done.

That is not the way this process is supposed to work, but it was made necessary by the inadequacy of this agriculture appropriations bill. Farmers in North Carolina and the other states affected by natural disasters need our help now, and that need is greater than what is provided in this bill.

12:03 PM EDT

Bill Barrett, R-NE 3rd

Mr. BARRETT of Nebraska. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding this time to me, and I certainly rise in support of the conference report. And I want to thank my colleagues on the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Subcommittee of the Appropriations Committee for their very hard work. This bill, especially the emergency provisions, is very badly needed by our farmers and ranchers.

Mr. Speaker, we have got a unique problem in agriculture. It is a cash flow crisis, and this conference report will help ease that situation by providing farmers with the financial resources to close out this year's growing season and prepare for the next.

I specifically want to commend the conferees for maintaining the AMTA payment mechanism. This will allow producers to receive payments in possibly less than 2 weeks after it is enacted, and I charge the Department of Agriculture to meet this goal.

I strongly encourage the President to sign the bill. Our producers do not have the time for political games as they are making decisions today which will affect their families for many years to come. We have got the right bill, and now is the right time to sign it.

Mr. Speaker, I think it is critical that the House agree to this conference report, and I urge an aye vote.

12:04 PM EDT

Robert Berry, D-AR 1st

Mr. BERRY. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentlewoman from Ohio (Ms. KAPTUR) for yielding this time to me, and I appreciate her hard work along with the hard work of all the other people that have worked on this bill, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, our farmers need the assistance in this bill, and they need a lot more. The funding in this bill is just simply not enough.

The other side of the aisle comes to the well over and over to criticize the lack of action on trade issues, yet when they have the opportunity, they fail to lift the sanctions on Cuba and other countries for food and medicine for only political reasons. Mr. Speaker, this is shameful.

This bill is inadequate. I will vote for it, but once again we are forcing America's farmers to pay for the political and foreign policy failures. The majority leadership should be ashamed of this bill because they did not accomplish what they should have for America's farmers.

12:05 PM EDT

Larry Combest, R-TX 19th

Mr. COMBEST. Mr. Speaker, we have heard a lot this morning about, obviously, the wants and desires of Members in regards to the process, in regards to things that were in the bill, [Page: H9230]

that were not in the bill, and if we spent, made all of those decisions, based upon that and those Beltway issues, we would probably never pass anything. Let me just mention a few of the people that are out there that this bill has tried to intend to help that support it:

The Southwest Peanut Growers Association of Virginia, North Carolina Peanut Growers Association, the American sheep industry, the American Farm Bureau, the National Cotton Council, the American Soybean Association, the U.S. Rice Federation, the National Grain and Sorghum Association, the United States Sugar Beet Association, the American Sugar Beet Growers, the Hawaiian Sugar Growers, the Florida Sugar League, the Rio Grande Valley Sugar Growers, the National Corn Growers Association are the

ones that have just come in since we started debating this bill.

Mr. Speaker, let me mention one other thing, if I might, as well. I agree with those people who have said that this is probably inadequate in terms of disaster money. We do not know how much that is. In fact, in some instances and in some cases the waters have not even receded enough to know what the damage is.

But I will tell my colleagues that as this bill started off at $500 million, we had a hearing in the Committee on Agriculture, and we asked the administration and the Secretary how much would they need, and they said they had no idea. But they guessed, and they would estimate at this time between 800 million and 1.2 billion.

Mr. Speaker, this bill has 1.2 billion. It is at the top end of what the administration suggested that they would need. If that is not enough, then at some point in the process I think we should come back and revisit that issue. But I will tell my colleagues that the farmers of America see the opportunity in a very short order to begin to get some very needed assistance in their hands. This is the way to do it, and I would encourage Members on both sides to give strong support to this bill. I

think the American farmers deserve it, and I think they anticipate it.

12:08 PM EDT

Eva M Clayton, D-NC 1st

Mrs. CLAYTON. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentlewoman from Ohio for yielding the time, and I want to thank her for her leadership and her strong advocacy for rural America and for her due process, and I want to thank the gentleman from New Mexico (Mr. SKEEN), the chair of the subcommittee, for his fairness and his advocacy for rural America and for agriculture.

Mr. Speaker, this bill does have things that many of our farmers are advocating. I, too, have received the notice from my peanut farmers, said they would like to have this bill passed. But I also have received notice from people who need disaster relief saying: Is that all the disaster relief they have? I have my farm bureau, which I am very strongly supported by, call and say, yes, this is insufficient, but vote for it.

Here we have a bill. Not only did we have an opportunity to respond to the disaster, but we refused to. I heard the gentleman from Texas (Mr. COMBEST) say $1.2 billion was the up side of what USDA suggests, but that was before we had Hurricane Floyd. Now we have had such disaster in large proportions. We have lost in North Carolina alone the agriculture has estimated to be over $3 billion. Over 120,000 hogs have died, 2.5 million chickens have died; that is just agriculture, and all of

the crop has gone.

One third of agriculture production is said to be lost in North Carolina, and we have $1.2 billion both for the drought and for Hurricane Floyd from the Northeast and to the Midwest.

How can we even think that is indeed sufficient response? We had a unique opportunity to respond. That is almost an insult, Mr. Speaker, to suggest that that is sufficient.

Now do I find that there are things in this bill that my farmers want? I would be less than honest to say yes, they do. The process really is important. Process in a democracy is important. Even when we lose, we would like to think that people have had an opportunity to have a full discussion. I am amazed that we have refused to have the opportunity to talk about the disaster that we so desperately need.

12:12 PM EDT

Marcy Kaptur, D-OH 9th

Ms. KAPTUR. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from Vermont (Mr. SANDERS) who has just been vigilant throughout this process to be fair to all segments of the United States.

12:12 PM EDT

Bernie Sanders, I-VT

Mr. SANDERS. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentlewoman for yielding this time to me.

I strongly oppose this legislation, and I urge all of my Democratic and Republican Members and friends to oppose it.

This bill should be opposed from both a process point of view and a policy point of view.

In terms of process, there is no disagreement that this bill, as a Republican member, the gentlewoman from Missouri (Mrs. EMERSON), just told my colleagues a few moments ago was quote, unquote, stolen away from the committee by the Republican leadership. That is what she said, and what the Republican leadership then did is went behind closed doors, where, heavily influenced by special interests, they wrote the bill. We received the bill this morning, hundreds of pages, and now we are supposed

to support it.

This process is undemocratic, it is an outrage, and no Member should vote for this bill on that ground alone. But we should also oppose this bill because of its content.

Last week we had an all-day debate upon the crisis of dairy farming in this country. There were six or seven amendments, and we went on and on, and at the end of the day, by a 285 to 140 vote, the Members of this body, Republicans and Democrats, said we need to reform the milk market order system in order to protect family farmers all over this country; 285 Members voted for it. When that issue came to the conference committee, they did not spend 1 minute discussing that issue. We spent all day;

we voted for it; they did not spend 1 minute.

[Time: 12:15]

How can you support legislation which ignores an attempt to address the crisis facing dairy farmers? Please vote ``no.''

12:14 PM EDT

Marcy Kaptur, D-OH 9th

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

Mr. Speaker, again to the gentleman from New Mexico (Mr. SKEEN), for whom I have the highest respect, the chairman of our committee, I know that no member of our committee could be proud of the bill that is on the floor today. Many have referenced that in their remarks.

I would urge the membership to recommit this bill back to our subcommittee where it belongs to fix its flaws.

In the years that I have been here in the Congress, I have never seen a conference report that comes to the floor where over one-third of our members do not even sign it. There was pressure put on a number of these people who [Page: H9231]

did sign. This is not the way that one of the bills out of appropriations ought to come to the floor.

I want to say a word about how this overall legislation is structured. Our concern does not necessarily go to the fundamental appropriations for the Department of Agriculture that are in the bill for the Year 2000. Our problem goes to the heart of the emergency package, the disaster assistance package, which is so fundamentally unfair.

I would beg my colleagues to listen. I am going to spend a few minutes here and lay out some numbers.

There are two parts to that portion of the legislation. There is $7.5 billion that goes out in economic assistance. That basically means low prices--trying to help people, as one of the gentlemen here said, the gentleman from Nebraska (Mr. BARRETT), meet cash flow problems in rural America. Of that $7.5 billion, $5.5 billion of it goes out under the AMTA formula. But, remember, AMTA is based on the planting of program crops in the years 1991 to 1995. It is not tied at all to what was planted

this year, to what is planted now, prices received, or economic loss. In fact, there is no requirement to have planted a crop at all in order to get these dollars!

In fact, there is nothing in that section of the bill for fruits and vegetables. Many of our Members are coming up here and saying we want a fair bill. There are provisions that are in there for sugar, for cotton, for peanuts, for tobacco, for oil seeds, for honey, for mohair. But there are no provisions for vegetables, for fruits, for revegetation.

In fact, in that section of the bill, if we look at livestock, hog farmers, an industry that is on its knees, it only gets a chance to compete for up to $200 million nationally. Other claimants in that fund are livestock producers, including those suffering from natural disasters. So their ability to be made ``whole,'' or to even be helped to be made ``half'' or even ``40 percent,'' is almost nothing when you look at the losses that are out there.

I will submit for the RECORD from the Governors of over a dozen States what they believe the losses to be in their areas. Or look at a State like Ohio, my own State, where over $600 million of losses is documented, with a letter from our Governor. Dollars in the bill for livestock amount to almost nothing as we try to keep some family farmers whole as they try to transition in this difficult rural economy.

SEPTEMBER 10, 1999.

Hon. TRENT LOTT,

Majority Leader,

U.S. Senate, Washington, DC.

Hon. THOMAS A. DASCHLE,

Minority Leader,

U.S. Senate, Washington, DC.

Hon. J. DENNIS HASTERT,

Speaker of the House,

House of Representatives, Washington, DC.

Hon. RICHARD A. GEPHARDT,

Minority Leader,

House of Representatives, Washington, DC.

DEAR SENATORS LOTT AND DASCHLE AND REPRESENTATIVES HASTERT AND GEPHARDT: On behalf of farmers and agricultural communities in more than 12 states, we request your help in obtaining immediate federal emergency grant assistance to address the economic losses caused by this year's severe drought. Farmers and rural communities along the eastern seaboard--from Rhode Island to South Carolina and west to Ohio--are experiencing the worst drought in decades. The drought of 1999 is compounded by

the farm crisis caused by low agriculture commodity prices. This combination is placing tremendous financial stress on farmers throughout the region.

Initial estimates indicate that these states will experience agricultural losses in excess of $1.64 billion because of the severe and extended drought conditions. This will have a ripple effect on the economy. The USDA Disaster Declarations which have been issued for our states enable farmers to apply for emergency low interest loans; however, loan assistance programs do not adequately respond to this year's unexpected economic impact on the farm communities. Many farmers are simply not in the

financial position to assume more debt when they have lost their income. We urge you to act quickly to include direct payment assistance to those producers impacted by the drought.

The recently passed Senate Agriculture Appropriations bill provides assistance for the commodity price disaster, but does not address the natural disaster impacting our farmers. We request that the final aid package be augmented to provide adequate funding for USDA disaster assistance programs such as the Crop Loss Disaster Assistance Program, the Non-insured Crop Disaster Assistance Program, the Livestock Assistance and the Emergency Conservation Programs. These programs can provide the rapid

response we are looking for and the agricultural community deserves. We further request that this disaster funding be earmarked for drought-impacted states.

We appreciate your assistance in helping our farmers in this time of crisis.

Sincerely,

Bob Taft, Parris N. Glendening, Jim Hodges, Cecil H. Underwood, James S. Gilmore III, Lincoln C. Almond, George E. Pataki, Jim Hunt, John G. Rowland, Tom Carper, Tom Ridge, Christine T. Whitman.

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MEMORANDUMRe: Latest Estimates of Agriculture losses in 13 State Drought Region (revised 9/21/99 4:30 pm).

Date: September 21, 1999.

To: Agriculture Appropriations Conferees.

From: DC Offices of Drought-Affected States.

Following, you will find our most recent estimates of agriculture losses in our states due to the recent drought. You will note these estimates reflect increases from our August numbers due to the inclusion of specialty crops, livestock, aquaculture and dairy that had not been accounted for in our previous estimates. Some states were unable to provide specific estimates per commodity at this time. The recent Hurricane has caused constraints on staff resources. Our states believe these numbers

are conservative estimates of what is expected to be the eventual effect of this devastating drought, but represent the best information we can provide at this date.

We also request the following programs be activated to deliver immediate and direct emergency assistance to our agriculture communities:

(1) Crop Loss Disaster Assistance

(2) Emergency Livestock Feed Program

(3) Emergency Conservation Program

(4) Dairy Loss Assistance Program

(5) Non-Insured Crop Disaster Assistance Program

(6) Tree Assistance Program

The Secretary should be directed to release funds to our farmers and producers in need within a reasonable, but expedited timeframe, based on estimated crop losses. We suggest 30-90 days.

In millions

State Losses:

Connecticut

$41

Delaware

30

Maryland

78

Maine

31

New Jersey

80

New York

370

North Carolina

53

Ohio

600

Pennsylvania

700

Rhode Island

10

South Carolina

150

Virginia

200

West Virginia

200

Total

2,543--

STATE OF OHIO, WASHINGTON OFFICE,

Washington, DC, September 21, 1999.

Hon. MARCY KAPTUR,

House of Representatives,

Washington, DC.

DEAR REPRESENTATIVE KAPTUR: On behalf of Ohio's farm families, I am writing to request your help in contacting House leadership to secure federal emergency assistance to overcome drought losses. This summer's drought not only has devastated crops, but has caused corresponding economic loss of livestock and dairy producers.

In the past month I have notified you of the State of Ohio's response to the drought emergency and expressed my hope that additional appropriations might be made available to provide the help that Ohio farmers badly need. Ohio's drought losses already are approaching a projected $600 million and will continue to grow (see attached Ohio Drought Impact Fact Sheet and memo to the Agriculture Appropriations conferees for estimated crop loss breakout).

I understand that Agriculture Appropriations conferees will soon meet to discuss a final bill and will consider providing meaningful drought assistance to states such as Ohio where it is sorely needed. I hope that you can support this effort and work with your House colleagues and the leadership to ensure that this happens.

As you know, the USDA has made available low interest loans to disaster designated areas. However, loan assistance programs do not adequately respond to this year's unexpected economic impact on the farm communities of the Drought affected states. Rather, producers impacted by drought require dedicated direct payment assistance. A farm aid package should provide adequate funding for USDA disaster assistance programs, such as the Crop Loss Disaster Assistance Program, the Non-Insured Crop Disaster

Assistance Program, the Livestock Assistance Program and the Emergency Conservation Program. Further, this disaster funding should be earmarked for drought-impacted states.

In addition, I hope you will agree that in order for our farmers to receive the help they need, Congress should include emergency grant assistance for drought disaster in the FY 2000 Agriculture Appropriations Bill.

I appreciate your efforts with this important issue.

Sincerely,

BOB TAFT.

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FACT SHEET: IMPACT OF 1999 DROUGHT ON OHIO CROP AND LIVESTOCK FARMS, SEPTEMBER 21, 1999

Drought Loss--Governors' recent estimate for 12 northeastern states: $2.5 billion. [Page: H9232]

Natural Disaster Loss--National Assn. Of State Departments of Agriculture (U.S.) estimate for all affected states: $3.56 billion.

Drought loss--Projected estimate for Ohio: $600 million (While harvest has just begun, there are projections that Ohio's losses could be in the range of $600 million of agricultural products. This represents about 10 to 15 percent of the nearly $4.7 billion of Ohio agricultural products sold in 1997. The FSA's July estimate was $422 million.)

Estimated direct USDA assistance payments

Drought Assistance--Estimated direct USDA assistance payments for which Ohio producers would be eligible: $164.8 million.

Breakdown of potential USDA funding to program assistance grants:

Crop Loss Disaster Assistance Program (CLDAP) and Noninsured Assistance Program (NAP), $80.6 million;

Livestock Assistance Program (LAP), $82.3 million;

Emergency Conservation Program (ECP), $1.9 million.

According to the Palmer Drought Severity Index, the long-term forecasting tool used by the NOAA's Climate Prediction Center, all of Ohio is now in either severe or extreme drought. Rainfall needed to end the drought, according to the Index, ranges regionally from about 6 to 10 inches. Topsoil moisture in Ohio is now 78 percent short to very short, compared to the five-year average of 41 percent short to very short. (See Palmer Index map.)

Eighty-seven Ohio counties have been designated natural disaster areas by U.S. Agriculture Secretary Glickman, enabling qualified farmers in those counties to apply for federal disaster assistance loans. Of those, 66 counties were designated primary natural disaster areas.

Hay Shortage: There is a significant shortage of hay in southern Ohio (estimated need is 325,000 tons).

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MEMORANDUMRe: Latest Estimates of Agriculture losses in 12 State Drought Region.

Date: September 17, 1999.

To: Agriculture Appropriations Conferees.

From: DC Offices of Drought-Affected States.

Following, you will find our most recent estimates of agriculture losses in our states due to the recent drought. You will note these estimates reflect increases from our August numbers due to the inclusion of specialty crops, livestock, aquaculture and dairy that had not been accounted for in our previous estimates. Some states were unable to provide specific estimates per commodity at this time. The recent Hurricane has caused constraints on staff resources. Our states believe these numbers

are conservative estimates of what is expected to be the eventual effect of this devastating drought, but represent the best information we can provide at this date.

We also request the following programs be activated to deliver immediate and direct emergency assistance to our agriculture communities:

(1) Crop Loss Disaster Assistance

(2) Emergency Livestock Feed Program

(3) Emergency Conservation Program

(4) Dairy Loss Assistance Program

(5) Non-Insured Crop Disaster Assistance Program

(6) Tree Assistance Program

The Secretary should be directed to release funds to our farmers and producers in need within a reasonable, but expedited timeframe, based on estimated crop losses. We suggest 30-90 days.

In millions

State Losses:

Connecticut

$41

Delaware

30

Maryland

78

New Jersey

80

New York

370

North Carolina

53

Ohio

600

Pennsylvania

700

Rhode Island

10

South Carolina

150

Virginia

200

West Virginia

200

Total

2,512--

NET EXPENDITURES OF THE COMMODITY CREDIT CORPORATION[In billions of dollars]

Total

Commodity programs (incl. AMTA)

Other

FY 1990

6.5

4.5

2.0

FY 1991

10.1

7.8

2.3

FY 1992

9.7

6.9

2.8

FY 1993

16.0

11.9

4.1

FY 1994

10.3

6.1

4.2

FY 1995

6.0

4.1

2.0

FY 1996

4.6

4.5

0.1

FY 1997

7.3

5.3

2.0

FY 1998

10.1

8.0

2.2

FY 1999 est.

18.4

13.2

5.2

FY 2000:

Budget estimate

14.1

10.1

4.0

Emergency package

7.3

Total

21.5

FY 1999 and FY 2000 estimates are from the OMB mid-session review.

Figures for FY 2000 emergency package is CBO estimate of outlays resulting from the package (which is $8.7 billion in budget authority).

``Other'' includes export programs (EEP, MAP, export credit, etc.), conservation programs (CRP, etc.), various disaster assistance programs, among other items.

Then if you look at the natural or weather-related disaster portion of the emergency bill, there is only $1.2 billion in that, $1.2 billion. And these estimates are pre-hurricane Floyd. As Members have verified these numbers were put in the draft bill before North Carolina happened. So the natural disaster section is woefully inadequate. These are weather-related losses, and the funds are seriously short of what would be needed to assist those faced with disasters this year.

Why should producers in the Northeast and the middle Atlantic States that have had droughts this year not get some attention in this bill, as have producers in Texas who had droughts last year? If you look at the way the formulas work, there is not fair treatment for these States. Had our conference not been suspended, we would have offered amendments that would have attempted to fix these formulas and constructs that give such unequal treatment.

We know what this will mean are more bankruptcies and more loss of equity, which is so unfair. This bill should be targeted at people who are suffering hardship, not just some formula that was cooked up 3 or 4 years ago that does not meet current needs.

I wanted to put this on the RECORD and beg my colleagues, it would not take us long to go back to subcommittee to try to fix this, to make sure that we meet fairly the current needs of our country, and also help to position ourselves for the long term because of the fundamental inadequacy of Freedom to Farm alone to deal with the volatility that we have experienced with the downturn in the markets and what has happened with our lack of access to overseas markets.

There are longer-term solutions here that we are not being given the opportunity to address in this bill. Please do not do this. Please do not do this. Next year we are going to be back here again with more requests for supplemental credit, as we were this year.

This is not the way to deal with this problem. This is important enough and the gun is at our head, that if the Members of this Congress recommit this bill, we can do it right. Just do not bar us from the opportunity to do that.

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

12:20 PM EDT

Bill Goodling, R-PA 19th

Mr. GOODLING. Mr. Speaker, I cannot get two pennies to help disadvantaged children in the area of education, but we can put $7 million into this bill to make sure your children, my children, and every other child of a Member of Congress, can have a free breakfast. That really makes a lot of sense.

They will tell you well, it has been authorized. It has been on the books, yes, but it has never been funded. Why? Because we have done something a darn sight better. What we have done is said that any school district that feeds a lot of free and reduced-price children in lunch can also serve free breakfast, and we know that 85 percent of all children eating free and reduced-priced meals at noontime are now eating breakfast.

Others will tell you, oh, well, the rich and those almost rich do not have time to give their children breakfast. What a sorry state that is; the Government should do it.

Give the money to the farmers who are caught in drought problems. Give the money to those of us who are trying to educate those who are disadvantaged. But, for goodness' sake, don't give $7 million to feed your children or my children free breakfast.

12:21 PM EDT

Marcy Kaptur, D-OH 9th

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

Mr. Speaker, I would like to commend the Chair for doing a beautiful job of allowing equal time during this debate, which is something we were not allowed by the leadership of this institution in subcommittee. I would like to know how much time we have remaining on each side.

12:22 PM EDT

Robin Hayes, R-NC 8th

Mr. HAYES. Mr. Speaker, this is a good bill. I am from North Carolina. We have a serious problem, a huge problem; but this bill helps our farmers now. We can do more for them later, [Page: H9233]

and we will. But, please, support this conference report. It helps North Carolina farmers and it helps them now.

12:23 PM EDT

Donald Sherwood, R-PA 10th

Mr. SHERWOOD. Mr. Speaker, I have the greatest respect for the chairman of this committee, a man with his roots deep in agriculture, and he has worked long and hard on this bill with his committee. But there are some fundamental problems if you are from the Northeast or mid-Atlantic. This does not address our drought relief. I wish the people that could have decided to shortchange us could have been to Bradford County, Pennsylvania, with me and looked at the corn this high and the barns empty

of forage.

This bill is bad for us for three reasons: it does not address the drought; it does not address option 1-A, which means we are going to allow Secretary Glickman's mistake to put our farmers out of business, and it does not address the compacts.

Mr. Speaker, the only thing that this bill is good for in the Northeast is the auctioneers. I hate to go home and see the hammer fall on another Northeastern dairy farm.

I ask Members to oppose this bill.

12:25 PM EDT

Xavier Becerra, D-CA 30th

Mr. BECERRA. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentlewoman for yielding me time.

Mr. Speaker, there is no doubt that we should be doing something and doing it quickly for our farmers in America, because they are in distress. At times of economic prosperity, we go to some of our agriculture regions in this country, and we find that farmers are having to close down their shop, and there are fewer and fewer farmers independently farming in this country, and that has to stop.

But this bill, unfortunately, is very troubling for someone like me who comes from California, where right now, with a State prospering so much, and you find unemployment rates have plummeted in a State that for the longest time was suffering higher unemployment rates than the rest of the Nation, right now, while we are doing well in California, if you walk into the agricultural regions of California, you will find unemployment rates above 10 percent, up to 15 to 20 percent in some of our rural

areas where there are farm workers desperate to work. Yet in this particular conference report we have a particular provision that was added with regard to guest worker programs where we get to import workers to do work here in America.

This provision would allow us to go out and seek people from other countries to do the work that Americans can do today by simply saying that for 3 to 4, maybe up to 8 days, we searched for someone to do the job out there in the fields.

That is unfortunate, because those unemployment rates for farm workers still exist. They are very high. Yet right now this bill would say rather than give those American workers a chance to work in those fields, to earn a decent living, even if sometimes it may be a low wage, no, instead we are going to allow some of these mega-corporations to go out and say we tried for 3 days to find an American worker to work that crop, but we could not find anyone, so now let us go abroad and hire the cheap

labor to come in here and do the work for us.

How can we do that right now, when not just farmers, but farm workers are hurting, to say we are going to cut the throats of agriculture? This is not the way to do it.

This is a good bill with many good features to it, but why we had to go about doing it this way I do not know. It makes it very difficult for someone who, by the way, has not a piece of farmland in his congressional district, to get up here and say this; but I think we may have to oppose this bill.

12:27 PM EDT

John Sweeney, R-NY 22nd

Mr. SWEENEY. Mr. Speaker, I thank the chairman for yielding me this time.

Mr. Speaker, in the brief time I have, I simply want to say this: I have spent the last several weeks working with the committee and working with the members of the committee to impress upon them the needs of the dairy farmers of the northeastern part of our State.

To my colleagues who will come to this floor to vote on this bill, I want to make this very clear: because we have been threatened by a veto and because we have followed a misguided path set for us by the Secretary of Agriculture on option 1-A and because we have decided to ignore the fact that the Northeast Dairy Compact, which provides for minimum supports for farmers in the Northeast so that they can maintain their process, we have decided to put forward a bill today that promotes the worst

kind of regional divisions in this body. We have decided to put forth a bill today that promotes and benefits singular Members, singular states, at the expense of others.

So, with that, I would urge all of my colleagues to strongly oppose this bill and let us make sure we come back and do the right thing for all of our farmers.

12:28 PM EDT

Marcy Kaptur, D-OH 9th

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

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the gentleman from New York for his remarks and again plead with my colleagues, as we move to a motion to recommit, to support the motion to recommit and go back to subcommittee where it belongs and fix this bill.

As you have listened to the speakers today, you have heard Members like the gentleman from Minnesota (Mr. PETERSON). We look at the farmers in the Red River Valley. We can do better for them. They have had no crops. Just because some areas of the country have been benefited by this current conference report before us, simply because of who was in the room writing it, does not mean that other parts of America that have been deeply hurt by drought and by crop loss do not also deserve the

attention of this broader membership. We need to fix what was done improperly by those who took the bill away from our committee where it rightfully belonged.

How can you turn down someone like the gentleman from Maine (Mr. BALDACCI), an area of the country in the Northeast that really has not had a lot of losses in years past.

[Time: 12:30]

Yet if we look at the specialty crop area, it is given almost no consideration in this legislation. Speaking for our region of the country, the heart of the midwest, for those people who are literally going bankrupt in the pork industry, why should they not be treated similarly to those who are in the row crop business?

These are good Americans, too. They deserve the attention of this Congress. It is not going to take a Ph.D. or 6 years of education for us to go back into committee and fix this. All we need is people who are sensitive to the differing needs across this country to do a good job.

I want to say to our chairman, the gentleman from New Mexico (Mr. [Page: H9234]

SKEEN), no chairman could have treated his committee members more fairly than he has. To the staff who has worked with us throughout, they have my highest admiration on both sides of the aisle.

However, what was done to us is unforgivable, and it is the reason that we have a two-legged dog bill before us today. Give us the opportunity next week to go back and do what is right for America, for those who are hurting today and to help position this marketplace for the future.

No less is expected of us as leaders who know more about these subjects, frankly, than anyone else in the United States. So to produce a bill that is half baked just does not do credit to this institution. I beg my colleagues who are listening today, to those who are with us here on the floor, to support our motion to recommit. Let us go back and fix this thing and bring it back next week. America deserves better than we are able to produce today.

Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.