8:37 PM EDT
Nick Smith, R-MI 7th

Mr. SMITH of Michigan. I thank the gentleman for yielding to me.

Imagine for a moment the late 1990s where many farmers were going broke. There were auctions, and farmers had to sell out farms that had been in their family for generations.

Imagine running for reelection in 1998, being reelected, and being asked to serve as chairman of the Committee on Agriculture to pass a new farm bill to try to keep a viable agriculture in the United States, a huge challenge. Every commodity group is coming forward to suggest that they should have more money from the Federal Government, but being chairman of the Committee on Agriculture, LARRY COMBEST was still under pressure to limit total spending.

I think it should be repeated that where we ended up on the subsidies for agriculture were actually less under this farm bill that the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Combest) guided through. Subsidies for farmers ended up less than what they were for the prior 3 years.

LARRY COMBEST came to Congress as a leader in Texas agriculture. He came with the knowledge of how farm programs work. I had my disagreements with some of the provisions of the farm bill, like I suspect every member of the Committee on Agriculture might have written it a little bit differently if they had their personal desires. But what we ended up with is a help for American agriculture, faced with a situation of challenging subsidies in a world atmosphere. Let me give a couple of examples.

Europe, for example, subsidizes their farmers five times as much as we subsidize our farmers. Japan subsidizes their farmers between 20 and 25 percent as much as we subsidize our farmers. We ended up with a farm bill that is going to help assure, at least, that we have a strong, viable agriculture in the United States.

On LARRY COMBEST'S retirement, I wish him Godspeed and thanks for the effort.