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June 23, 1998

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America has come a long way from the days when Thomas Jefferson believed that every American should be a farmer, but what he said then is still true today: 'The cultivators of the earth are the most valuable citizens. They are the most vigorous, the most independent, the most virtuous, and they are tied to their country and wedded to its liberty and interest by the most lasting bonds.' Today, we have an opportunity to strengthen those bonds, and I am very happy to do so.

President Bill Clinton
June 23, 1998

Today, at a Rose Garden event, President Clinton is joined by Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman and a bipartisan group of Congressional members, as he signs the Agricultural Research, Extension, and Education Reform Act of 1998, a law that restores food stamp benefits for certain legal immigrants, including the elderly and children, and supports our farmers and agricultural community.

A Presidential Plan To Help American Farmers As We Move Into The 21st Century. Agriculture is an integral part of our nation and its economy. With the signing of the Agricultural Research bill, President Clinton and those in Congress who supported this legislation, are ensuring that the agricultural community and the hard working Americans who farm the land are given the tools they need to move ahead into the 21st Century. This bill also remedies a shortcoming in the 1996 welfare reform law by restoring benefits to certain legal immigrants, mostly children and the elderly.

Restoring Benefits For Those In Need. This law will restore food stamp benefits to 250,000 elderly, disabled, and other legal immigrants, including 75,000 children, who lost assistance as a result of cuts in the 1996 welfare law that had nothing to do with welfare reform. This restoration builds on the President's success last year in restoring Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid to 420,000 legal immigrants whose benefits were also terminated under the welfare reform law.

Strengthening Protection For Farmers. Crop insurance is an important protection for farmers when disaster strikes. This legislation provides the authority to ensure that crop insurance is fully funded for the next five years.

Extending The Fund For Rural America. The Fund for Rural America provides loans and grants for rural economic and community development and innovative agricultural research. Today's bill signing extends this program for five years and increases funding to strengthen rural communities, and continue innovative applied research and extension programs to improve food safety, human nutrition, and agricultural productivity.

Support For Agricultural Research and Education. This legislation reauthorizes various programs that support our nation's land-grant colleges and universities. In addition, grant programs will be extended on a competitive basis for research into emerging areas of agriculture, including: agricultural genomes, food safety, food technology and human nutrition, new and alternative uses of agricultural commodities and products, agricultural biotechnology, natural resource management, and farm efficiency and profitability.

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