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President Clinton's Remarks in Radio Actuality on Agricultural Provisions

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The Briefing Room

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release May 21, 1999


"We are living through the longest peace-time expansion in our nation's history, the strongest economy in a generation, the lowest unemployment in nearly 30 years, over 18 million new jobs since 1993.

Our farmers and ranchers helped to create this new prosperity, giving us good, inexpensive food at home and exporting a lot abroad. Unfortunately, today, too many of them are not reaping the benefits of the prosperity they helped to create. In fact, many of our farmers and ranchers are in the grip of the worse crisis in over a decade. We have to do more to help them.

Three months ago I called on Congress to give farmers the loan assistance they need to start the spring planting. Congress didn't act then and every day they waited brought more farms closer to foreclosure.

So in March, our administration took extraordinary action to make $300 million in loans available to America's farming families now, instead of at the end of the year when they normally would have come up. Congress, Friday, acted to provide funds for those loans and more. On Friday, I signed an emergency appropriations bill that will restore the $300 million to the loan program to help our farmers, ranchers and rural communities.

But with thousands of them still in danger of failing, we must continue our efforts. My balanced budget for next year includes additional help for agriculture. Unfortunately, next week the House of Representatives will vote on a bill that would gut some of those commitments and the Senate is considering even deeper cuts. Our farmers and ranchers feed us. They've helped us to get this prosperity we're enjoying. Now they're in need and we should help them.

After passing a bill that will do so much good, it would be a real shame and a bad mistake for Congress to reverse course and cut back on our commitment to America's farming and ranching families. I'm committed to working with the Congress to give them the support they need."

NOTE: Sound from this statement is available on the White House Press Office Radio Actuality Line at 202-456-5671.


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