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July 23, 1998

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Whenever disaster strikes, Americans join together as one community to help see their neighbors through. That is what we will do throughout rural America, to save the farmers who are losing their homes and whose crops are dying in the field. At this moment of broad prosperity for our nation, we can -- and must -- help our rural neighbors through this current crisis and strengthen rural communities for the 21st Century.

President Bill Clinton
July 23, 1998

A Presidential Plan Of Action. President Clinton is announcing a four-point plan for rural America that: (1) expands the rural economy through exports and development; (2) improves the farm income safety net; (3) strengthens rural infrastructure; and (4) promotes health, welfare, and a clean environment

Expanding The Rural Economy. President Clinton's plan:

  • Implements the Wheat Purchase Initiative to purchase 80 million bushels of wheat, reducing wheat surpluses and lifting prices on the wheat crop;
  • Calls for full funding of the International Monetary Fund to stabilize Asian economies that are critical customers for America's farmers;
  • Exempts food exports from U.S. economic sanctions called for under the nuclear non-proliferation law.

Improving The Farm Income Safety Net. Last week, President Clinton called on Congress to relieve farm financial stress:

  • The President supports emergency funding for:
    • Supplemental crop insurance benefits to those in the greatest need;
    • Crop and pasture flood compensation for farmers and ranchers whose crop or pasture land is flooded;
    • The Disaster Reserve For Livestock Feed Losses to cover and prevent losses due to natural disasters;
  • Modernizing agriculture through legislation that secures crop insurance and boosts investment in agricultural research and rural development.

Strengthening Rural Infrastructure. The President's plan targets critical infrastructure that:

  • Invests in new roads, construction to rebuild older roads, and gives rural America a greater voice in transportation investment decisions in their area;
  • Develops a long-term agricultural transportation strategy implemented through the Departments of Agriculture and Transportation;
  • Supports rural school modernization.

Promoting Health, Welfare, and A Cleaner Environment. The President's plan:

  • Sets a goal of connecting rural clinics and hospitals to the Internet, allowing access to advice from specialists nationwide;
  • Improves food safety through new technology, standards, and more inspectors to make sure all food is safe;
  • Promotes a welfare-to-work initiative that provides transportation resources so people can get to their jobs and work;
  • Supports a clean water initiative that will provide farmers with resources to control polluted runoff, create 2 million miles of buffer zones to waterways, and develop pollution prevention plans covering 35 million acres;
  • Provides safe drinking water by upgrading and expanding drinking water services in rural communities plagued by poor water quality, quantity, and dependability;
  • Makes rural areas safer by funding grants for communities to hire more police officers.

Five and A Half Years Of Progress, But Challenges Remain. For five and a half years, President Clinton and Vice President Gore have worked to expand opportunity for rural Americans and farm families. The Administration has provided critical disaster assistance to rural homeowners, farm owners, and business owners, as well as to ranchers who have lost livestock, fought to expand U.S. agricultural exports, improved our school lunch programs by buying surplus commodities, and worked to diversify the sources of enterprise and income in rural America.

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