5:25 PM EDT
Robin Hayes, R-NC 8th

Mr. HAYES. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of words.

Mr. Chairman, I rise today in strong support of the fiscal year 2000 Agriculture Appropriations bill. I commend the gentleman from New Mexico (Mr. SKEEN), the chairman, and the gentlewoman from Ohio (Ms. KAPTUR), the ranking member, and all my colleagues on the subcommittee for bringing this bill to us, a bill which supports American farmers in rural communities. This bill comes to us after much time, deliberation, and discussion. I thank the subcommittee for their hard work.

I want to address the current amendment to eliminate the Market Access Program. This program is vital to the success of our farmers. If this amendment passes, we as a Congress are to blame for handing over U.S. agricultural market share to foreign competitors.

I believe with my whole heart that the American farmers are the most efficient in the world and produce the best products at the lowest prices and provide the safest food of anyone in the world. With this knowledge, I confidently say that given an equal opportunity, American farmers can compete and succeed against agricultural products from any other country.

However, American farmers are not being given this equal opportunity. The United States is outspent by more than 20 to 1 by our foreign competitors, promoting and subsidizing their own product.

In 1997, the leading U.S. competitor spent $924 million to promote their agriculture exports, $100 million of that spent on promotions here in the United States. Conversely, we grant our farmers assistance to the tune of $90 million to help them compete against our competitor's $924 million.

Rather than having this annual debate aimed at eliminating the program, I argue that Congress should rather be discussing a funding increase for the Market Access Program. This is the only program aimed correctly at helping U.S. agriculture products around the world.

Our competitors have no limits on what they will spend to assist their farmers in edging out our product. Their success is evidenced by the fact that U.S. ag exports have decreased by $11 billion since 1996.

In conclusion, let me simply say the Market Access Program is a valuable tool we are able to provide our farmers. This tool not only helps them compete abroad, but it also supports thousands of U.S. export jobs, 24,000 in my State of North Carolina alone.

I urge my colleagues to vote in favor of U.S. farmers by voting against this amendment.