Resolved: That the United States should substantially change its federal agricultural policy.

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Source: CongressDaily/A.M., Sept 16, 1999 pNA.

Title: Administration Outlines Stand On Emergency Ag Funding.(Brief Article)

Full Text COPYRIGHT 1999 National Journal Inc.

WASHINGTON -- Sep-16 -- (CongressDaily) Agriculture Secretary Glickman and OMB Director Lew said Wednesday that the Clinton administration "generally agrees" the $7.4 billion for emergency farm aid in the FY2000 version of the Senate Agriculture appropriations bill is the correct amount.

But they said the administration wants a new form of supplemental income payments for farmers, proposed by House Agriculture ranking member Charles Stenholm, D-Texas, rather than the doubling of the Freedom to Farm or Agricultural Marketing Transition Act payments included in the Senate bill.

Glickman made the announcement at an afternoon House Agriculture Committee hearing on the farm crisis.

Glickman and Lew also said the administration believes the $7.4 billion could be budgeted without taking money from the surplus intended for Social Security.

House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee ranking member Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, noted the Senate bill does not provide money to help Northeastern farmers hit by the worst drought in decades. But she said she believes the Senate number is in the "neighborhood" of what the administration will support.

Under the administration version of the Stenholm plan, supplemental income payments would be made to producers of crops when the current year's national gross revenue for a commodity sector falls below 95 percent of the national gross revenue of the previous five years for that commodity, adjusted for changes in acreage.

In a letter to appropriators, Lew said the AMTA formula "is not based on current market conditions for which farmers need assistance and in some cases go to those who are not active producers."

Glickman also said the administration wants authority to increase the number of acres in the Conservation Reserve Program from 36.4 million to 40 million acres.

If there's no increase, Glickman said, the number of acres available for CRP enrollment may be so small that the administration will have to reject 70 percent of offers of land from farmers next year.

However, House Agriculture Risk Management and Specialty Crops Subcommittee Chairman Tom Ewing, R-Ill., said at the hearing he believes the AMTA formula still is a "fairer" way to distribute additional funds.

Most members did not react to Glickman's proposal and larger questions of policy, instead asking Glickman about parochial matters pertaining to their districts.

In a dramatic moment at the hearing, House Agriculture Chairman Combest refused a request from Rep. Earl Pomeroy, D- N.D., that Kaptur, who was sitting with the Democratic staff to hear Glickman, be allowed to sit in the vacant seat of a Democratic member.

Combest said he had refused such requests from Republicans and that he preferred Kaptur view the proceedings "from afar."

Kaptur later told reporters she considered Combest's reaction "most unusual" and said she had been surrounded by Republican members who said if they were chairmen they would have given her a seat.

In a related development, the decision of the House to leave town for Hurricane Floyd forced a delay on a planned vote on the administration's dairy reform package until next Tuesday at 6 p.m., according to a dairy lobbyist.

 
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