10:04 AM EDT
Tony P. Hall, D-OH 3rd

Mr. HALL of Ohio. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from Florida (Mr. DIAZ-BALART) for yielding me the time, and I yield myself such time as I may consume.

This rule makes in order consideration of the conference report to accompany H.R. 1906 which is the agriculture appropriations bill for fiscal year 2000. The rule waives all points of order against the conference report.

Mr. Speaker, the conference report was not written by the members of the conference committee. It was pretty much written by the House and the Senate leadership. Frustration among Democrats is running so high that a few days ago, the ranking Democrat on [Page: H9211]

the Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies, the gentlewoman from Ohio (Ms. KAPTUR), took out a special order to detail this process for

the record.

The conference report contains many shortcomings. The measure fails to include a Senate provision exempting food and medicine from unilateral embargoes. This policy, I think, hurts the weakest and most needy people in foreign countries, and we should never use food as a weapon.

Leaving out this exemption also hurts the American farmers whom we are trying to help through this bill. The $1.2 billion in natural disaster assistance is inadequate for drought-stricken farmers and victims of Hurricane Floyd. The drought was particularly hard hitting for farmers in the Midwest and Northeast.

I am afraid the conferees, or whoever wrote this bill, missed a wonderful opportunity to assist farmers and help the needy at the same time. There is a natural link between support for farmers and the food safety net, and this measure does little to strengthen it. By buying commodities for humanitarian aid, we would boost prices for farmers, provide new markets for America's agriculture industry, and help the hungry here and abroad.

Despite my concerns about this bill, I think that the rule is in good shape. It is a standard rule for conference reports. I urge adoption of the rule.

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