(Senate - October 06, 1998)

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[Pages S11545-S11562]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []


  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senate will now proceed to the conference 
report on H.R. 4101 until 1:30 with the time equally divided.
  The Senate resumed consideration of the conference report.
  Mr. FEINGOLD addressed the Chair.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Wisconsin is recognized.
  Who yields time?
  Mr. FEINGOLD. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent the full hour be 
accorded that was intended for the agriculture appropriations bill.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. FEINGOLD. Mr. President, I yield myself such time as I require.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Senator from Wisconsin is recognized.
  Mr. FEINGOLD. Mr. President, I intend to vote against the Conference 
Report on Fiscal Year 1999 Agriculture Appropriations bill for a number 
of reasons. In the final version, the congressional majority has added 
a $3.6 billion unfunded emergency spending provision, while 
simultaneously stripping out consumer and farmer protections.
  However, today I will focus on the worst provision in the conference 
report. I am extremely disappointed that

[[Page S11546]]

the final version contains language from the House bill extending 
USDA's rulemaking period on Federal Milk Marketing Order Reform. Once 
again, on the issue of milk orders, bad politics prevailed over good 
  This extension will require the new milk pricing system to be in 
place in October of 1999, instead of the original date of April, 1999 
set in the Farm Bill. Mr. President, officials at USDA have assured me 
that they did not request this extension nor do they need it.
  House Appropriators argued that the extension was necessary to give 
Congress ample time to review, comment and act on the final rule. They 
claim that if the rule were to be announced in late November, they 
would not have time to act on it. Mr. President, let's examine this 
argument because it does not hold water. My House and Senate colleagues 
who support this provision on these grounds surely remember passage of 
the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996. This 
law empowers Congress and the courts to overturn regulations with 
Presidential approval. This law gives Congress 60 days to act, once a 
rule has been published in the Federal Register. So, whether the rule 
is published in late November, early December, or mid-February of 1999, 
Congress has 60 days of session to act. So this really tells us what is 
going on here.
  Mr. President, this dairy provision was included solely to intimidate 
and bully USDA and Secretary Glickman into an anti-Wisconsin dairy 
pricing reform. Instead of allowing USDA to do its job, some Members of 
Congress want to do it for them, and do it to benefit their own 
producers at the expense of dairy farmers in the Upper Midwest.
  Let's just take a look at the current system which is shown on this 
chart, which some have called the Eau Claire system. I like to call it 
the anti-Eau Claire system because it is an unfair system for Eau 
Claire, WI, and our entire state--in fact, the entire upper Midwest.
  This chart shows that the Class I differential received by dairy 
farmers in Eau Claire, Wisconsin is $1.20 per hundredweight. Believe it 
or not, Mr. President, Federal pricing policy dictates that the farther 
you travel from Eau Claire, WI, the higher your Class I differential. 
You will notice that the price in Chicago is $1.40, in Kansas City, 
Missouri it's $1.92 and in Charlotte, NC it's $3.08 per hundredweight. 
Our friends in Florida make $3.58 in Tallahassee, $3.88 in Tampa, and 
$4.18 in Miami. Dairy farmers in Miami make nearly $3.00 more per 
hundredweight than farmers in the Upper Midwest. Does that make any 
sense? Absolutely not.
  Let me illustrate this with another chart.
  To illustrate just how senseless this whole system is, I have 
borrowed this graphic from my colleague from Minnesota, Senator Rod 
Grams. As you can see, pricing milk based on its distance from Eau 
Claire, WI, is as arbitrary and ridiculous as pricing oranges from 
their distance from Florida, computers from their distance from 
Seattle, or--even more shocking to some of us--country music from its 
distance from Nashville. But wait, now that I think about it, maybe 
Congress should pass legislation to price maple syrup based on its 
distance from Burlington, VT, and white wine on its distance from 
California. While we are at it, lets pass a law to pay Members of 
Congress according to the distance of their hometown from Washington, 
DC. Sound ridiculous? It is, just as the current milk pricing system is 
ridiculous. It would almost be funny if it weren't so destructively 
unfair to Wisconsin's dairy farmers, undermining the livelihoods of 
their families.
  Mr. President, the current system desperately needs reform, a reform 
the Secretary of Agriculture has indicated he is willing to make--but 
that some members of Congress are very anxious to prevent. This poster 
is an illustration of today's Federal milk pricing system--how milk is 
produced and priced in America. You can see that the price of milk 
begins not with the cow, but with the Congress. Its interesting to note 
that the market and the farmer don't enter into the equation until two-
thirds down the page. I could walk you through all the confusing steps 
shown here, but I understand we are scheduled to recess sometime in 
October, and frankly, I would need until mid-November to describe fully 
the inequity of this system.
  This system has outlived its usefulness, its patently unfair and its 
bad policy.
  The extension of USDA's rulemaking had another intent as well. 
Extending the rulemaking period automatically extends the life of the 
Northeast Interstate Dairy Compact. The 1996 Farm Bill requires a 
sunset of the Compact when the new federal pricing system is 
implemented. At the rate Congress is going, tacking this issue onto 
appropriations bills, there is no telling when implementation will now 
  The effects of the Compact on consumers within the region and 
producers outside of it is indisputable. Dairy compacts are harmful, 
unnecessary and a burden to this country's taxpayers.
  The worst part of this entire 65 year dairy fiasco is its effect on 
the producers in the Upper Midwest. The 6 month extension puts an 
additional 900 Wisconsin producers at risk. Wisconsin loses 
approximately 3 dairy farmers a day. Producers cannot stand 6 more days 
of the current program, let along 6 more months.
  I am truly troubled by this turn of events and would like to read 
into the record a few excerpts from letters I have received from 
struggling dairy farmers in my home state of Wisconsin.
  From Pulaski, Wisconsin a constituent writes:

       I would love to encourage my son or daughter to take over 
     this farm someday. But without a fair pricing system, they 
     cannot earn a decent living, and I cannot and will not 
     encourage them to farm. That will be a great loss to the 
     world of agriculture.

  A letter from Bloomer, WI reads:

       We, in the Upper Midwest are not asking for a handout, just 
     a more level playing field. Fair competition and price reform 
     is our only hope.

  Another constituent writes:

       In my opinion, just because a pricing system has been in 
     implementation for years, doesn't make it useful today. It 
     must also change with the times. How many more farms are we 
     willing to let fall victim to the prejudiced pricing? . . . 
     Its much easier to put a pillow over our heads, roll over and 
     ignore the cry for help from the Wisconsin dairy farmers . . 
     . I realize changing the present milk pricing system will not 
     heal the strained economics of dairy farming. It's only a 
     step . . . I urge you to take this step and . . . hear the 
     cry of dairy farmers like me.

  And finally, a dairy producer makes this comment:

       Eau Claire was chosen as the reference point because it was 
     judged by the government to be the center of the dairy 
     industry's most productive region. Since California now 
     produces more milk than Wisconsin, this [rule] should no 
     longer apply. Maybe we should change the [milk pricing] 
     reference point to Fresno, California, to encourage dairy 
     production in the Midwest.

  These examples illustrate the need for dairy pricing reform and 
illustrate the state of Wisconsin's dairy industry- struggling 
needlessly under the burden of current dairy policy.
  Mr. President, not only is legislating dairy policy on this bill 
inappropriate, its bad precedent, it circumvents the appropriate 
committees, the Agriculture and Judiciary Committees, and circumvents 
USDA's authority. We ought to give USDA the opportunity to do the right 
thing for today's national dairy industry and put an end to the unfair 
Eau Claire system now, not 6 months from now.
  Mr. President, I urge my colleagues to take a second look at this 
antiquated and harmful policy. Stand up for equity, fairness, and for 
what is best for America's dairy industry, our consumers and our 
taxpayers. I yield back the floor.
  Mr. COCHRAN addressed the Chair.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Sessions). The Senator from Mississippi.
  Mr. COCHRAN. Mr. President, I yield myself such time as I may 
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Mississippi is recognized.
  Mr. COCHRAN. Mr. President, we begin consideration again today of the 
Agriculture Appropriations Conference Report. Yesterday we were on that 
report for 3\1/2\ hours and had a full discussion of views on the 
question of whether or not the conference report should be adopted. I 
was pleased to see this morning an assessment of the situation by the 
Washington Post, in an editorial entitled, ``The Appropriations Game.'' 
I read excerpts from that editorial:

       In the agricultural bill, an election-year bidding war has 
     broken out between the parties over aid to distressed 
     farmers. This is

[[Page S11547]]

     one from which the president should back away . . . The 
     Democrats want not just to give a larger amount but to do 
     so in such a way as to repudiate the last farm bill . . . 
     The administration earlier in the year rightly resisted 
     the position it has now adopted; it should revert.

  That is the end of the quotation from the Washington Post editorial. 
I think it appropriately points out the difficulty we face in 
confronting a threat from the President to veto this conference report. 
It is not just about money.
  The President is suggesting, through his Secretary of Agriculture and 
through the Democratic leadership, that this conference report is 
unacceptable, not because it doesn't appropriate enough money, but 
because it doesn't change the policy that was agreed upon in the 1996 
farm bill and signed by this President. It changes a fundamental policy 
of setting Government loan rates and using them to encourage the 
planning of some five or more specific commodities.
  To get away from that old way of Government support, the Congress and 
the President, the administration, worked together to develop an 
alternative, a farm policy that would be driven by the dictates of the 
market, the demands of the market, the signals that the market would 
send to producers to indicate what prices might likely be during a crop 
year, and farmers themselves would make the choice as to what they 
would plant.
  Some call this Freedom to Farm--freedom to plant what you want to 
rather than what the Government dictates you have to plant in order to 
be eligible for Government support. To make this a transition where the 
Government wasn't going to just say, ``OK, everybody, you're on your 
own, farmers are on their own,'' there would be a series, over 5 years, 
of transition payments made.
  Interestingly enough, as pointed out by the distinguished Senator 
from Kansas, Senator Roberts, yesterday during the debate, this year's 
transition payments are going to be higher. It was assumed by the 
writers of that policy, the legislative committees, that at first 
farmers would really need to have higher payments. They were very 
prescient figuring this out and including that provision in the farm 
  What we have suggested in our disaster assistance plan is, not to 
change the policy, but to provide bonus payments under the market 
transition formulas to increase the amount that all producers who are 
eligible for these payments would receive to help deal with the income 
losses that are occurring because of lost markets in Asia and elsewhere 
during this global economic crisis.
  Then there are those who have sustained weather-related disasters in 
certain areas, which has meant lost crops, not just lost income, not 
just diminished yields, which the increased market transition payments 
will help deal with. But, for those who have suffered crop losses, no 
loan rate is going to help them. There is nothing to put under the 
  The Washington Post points out, correctly, that we are not just in a 
bidding war on this bill--we are out of sorts because the Democrats 
keep advertising that their plan is worth $7 billion plus, and the 
Republicans only $4 billion; and therefore, the Democrats have a 
preferable plan and one that would provide more benefits--but the fact 
is, you change the policy instead of providing direct disaster 
assistance and you are not necessarily delivering money to those people 
who need the disaster benefits.
  The $4.2 billion plan is a direct assistance plan to those who 
qualify because they have suffered losses, plus the additional amount 
that is included in the transition bonuses.
  We continue to debate the issue. I am hopeful the Senate will approve 
the conference report. We have voted twice in the Senate, at the 
Democrats' insistence, on lifting the loan caps under the 1996 farm 
bill, and that has been rejected each time. We have voted twice on it, 
and twice it has been rejected. Now the administration is saying if you 
don't reconsider those two decisions, put that or something similar in 
the farm bill, in the disaster program, then the President will veto 
the bill.
  This is a $59.9 billion bill--$59.9 billion. We are talking about a 
very small part, a disagreement on a matter of policy where the 
Democrats are trying to get the Congress to be required by this 
President to repudiate a part of the 1996 farm bill so some Senators, I 
suppose, can go home and say, ``I told you so; we had a better bill,'' 
even though it has been pointed out clearly that under the old farm 
bill, under the old policy that they are trying to reinstate pro 
tanto--a good law school phrase--they would be getting less money.
  Under the Freedom to Farm bill, all farmers are getting more money 
from the Government as transition payments than they would have been 
eligible to receive under the 1996 farm bill which they want to exhume, 
resurrect, breathe life into, and put back on the books. That is not a 
very impressive proposal. That is not a very attractive proposal, and 
this Senate ought to reject it.
  I hope there will be votes enough to override the President's veto. 
It has been done before on an agriculture appropriations bill. It was a 
long time ago. But you usually don't see a President vetoing an 
agriculture appropriations bill. I hope somebody will get around to 
pointing out what all is in this bill for production agriculture, for 
the women, infants, and children feeding program, for food stamps for 
people who are unable to provide for their own nutrition needs, for 
school lunch and breakfast programs.
  I just came from a conference with the House on a reauthorization 
bill for child nutrition programs. We have some very important needs 
that are met in this legislation. Close to 65 percent of the funding in 
this appropriations bill that we are approving today goes to help 
people provide for their own nutrition needs.
  The President may call this a veto of a disaster assistance program, 
but that is one very small part of what he is saying no to. He is 
rejecting the hard work of many Members of this body and the other body 
as well in crafting a bill that meets the need for agriculture 
research, for rural water and sewer system loans and grants, for 
economic development initiatives in small towns and rural communities 
throughout the United States.
  If one looks at the amount of money that goes to support production 
agriculture in this legislation, it is minuscule compared to the total 
amount being spent on other programs. Many in agriculture have said 
that this bill should not even be named an agriculture appropriations 
bill--that there should be a more accurate way of describing the 
funding that is contained in the bill. It doesn't go to agriculture, or 
at least not most of it, very little of it, as a percentage of the 
total amount appropriated. But the President is willing to put at risk 
those programs that are funded in this bill to accommodate the 
interests of a few Senators who are suggesting that this is an unfair, 
an insensitive approach to providing disaster assistance to those who 
have suffered weather-related disasters and suffered because of a 
downturn in the world economic situation.
  We are confronting a serious crisis in American agriculture. This 
bill responds to that crisis by providing direct assistance to those 
who have been harmed and who are eligible for transition payments and 
weather-related disaster benefits.
  I suggest the Washington Post is right about this, and to repeat what 
they say this morning in this editorial, this is an election-year 
bidding war from which the President should back away.
       The Democrats want not just to give a larger amount but to 
     do so in such a way as to repudiate the last farm bill. . . . 
     The administration earlier in the year rightly resisted the 
     position it has now adopted; it should revert.

  And so the observers at the Washington Post have figured this out. I 
hope that Senators will resist the entreaties being made to vote 
against this bill. This conference report ought to be adopted. It is a 
fair allocation of resources across the programs that are funded in the 
  I mentioned the Department of Agriculture programs that are funded in 
the bill that the President is willing to put at risk and to create the 
uncertainty and the anxieties among those who are expecting benefits at 
the beginning of this fiscal year. Right now we are operating under a 
continuing resolution. To veto the bill creates more delay, more 
uncertainty, more

[[Page S11548]]

anxiety. It puts in jeopardy the very benefits we are trying to make 
available for people now.
  Farmers need help now. They are beginning to be skeptical of the 
whole process and promises that are made by the Federal Government. I 
would like to do something to correct that. I would like to make sure 
that Government is trusted again to do what it promises to do and what 
it says it is willing to do, and many of us have been trying to put 
together a package of benefits that makes sense, is supported by the 
facts, can be administered.
  We provide additional funds in this bill for the administration of 
the program. And it is going to cost more. We have tried to work with 
the administration to determine the amount needed so that there will 
not have to be extra burdens assumed at county offices throughout the 
country, where there will be an increase in the workload, where there 
will be more demands made on the administration, the farm service 
agency in particular.
  We have tried to cooperate with this administration. It was our 
recommendation at the conference that these funds be added to help the 
administration deal with it. And now they turn right around and say, 
``We're going to veto that bill because it is inconsistent with the 
proposal made by Senate Democrats on the Senate floor,'' that was twice 
rejected by the Senate. ``If you don't include the disaster bill the 
way they want it written or in that respect, then we're going to veto 
this entire bill.''
  This entire bill, Mr. President, provides $56 billion in funding for 
a wide range of programs, most of them nutrition assistance, as I 
mentioned. So I hope the people in the country will stop and think what 
this administration is about to do to you if you are depending upon and 
looking to the Federal Government for support in nutrition programs. If 
you have free and reduced lunch and breakfast programs in your schools, 
they are not going to be funded on time because this President says, 
``I'm vetoing this bill because it doesn't satisfy a few Senate 
  That is not only bad politics, that is bad Government, and it ought 
to be repudiated by the Congress. If the President does insist on 
carrying out this promise or this threat to veto the bill, I hope the 
Senate will--if the House can--overturn the veto and not sustain the 
President's action.
  The Washington Post is right, the President ought to go back to the 
position he earlier had taken. The President signed the 1996 farm bill, 
and now he is suggesting that we need to go back and rewrite portions 
of it and that that will satisfy the needs of production agriculture, 
that that would be a better deal for farmers. The fact of the matter 
is, if we start going down that old road again, we will have an 
unworkable and unpredictable level of support from the Federal 
  Now farmers know what the Federal Government is going to provide in 
transition payments that are outlined in legislation over a 5-year 
period. Farmers can look at that. They can make judgments about what is 
best for their own farm operation, what the market conditions are, so 
that they can make decisions based on what is best for them at that 
farm in that crop year, given their own economic conditions as to what 
they will do. They will not lose benefits because they make a decision 
to change the crop they are planting. They would under the old law. If 
you do not plant that same crop that you are eligible for, you lose 
your eligibility for any assistance from the Government.
  And another thing. If you do not make a crop, you cannot put any crop 
in the loan. You cannot put an empty basket under the loan program that 
the Democrats are trying to resurrect. So if you would--like you have 
in southern Georgia--have crop losses, and you just plowed up a field, 
and you did not even try to harvest it because it was burned up, 
increasing the loan rate would not help you--not a bit.
  So my point is, the Democrats' plan is not all that it is cracked up 
to be. It is more an expression of frustration. And I sympathize with 
the frustration in many parts of the country. It is an effort to grasp 
at some straw in the wind and hold out the hope that this is going to 
make everything right.
  We are doing a very workmanlike job, in my view, of bringing together 
all of the different problems in agriculture and trying to design a 
program of benefits and assistance that helps farmers make it to the 
next year, helps compensate them to the extent that some will be spared 
going into bankruptcy or having to sell their farms at a forced sale. 
And it is that bad in some areas.
  We think this is a balanced approach, not only for this disaster 
assistance program that is funded in this bill to the extent of $4.2 
billion. That is in addition to all the other transition payments that 
we are providing under the existing law. And an option to obtain an 
accelerated payment of next year's market transition payment, that is 
available now in October because of a bill that was passed just 
  We think the bill itself, the entire conference report, justifies the 
support of this Senate and an overwhelming vote to approve it and to 
send it to the President.
  Before I yield the floor, Mr. President, I want to point out that 
this is just one aspect of what is being done or what is attempted to 
be done by this Congress to help the outlook for farming in America and 
in agriculture. Our economy--that is one of the most successful of any 
sectors of our economy in terms of its ability to export, to generate 
income for people not just on the farm but at the store, driving trucks 
in the transportation system, the inputs that go into production 
agriculture, the equipment that is purchased, the seeds, all the rest 
that go into this giant part of our economy--is very important to our 
  We generate a positive trade balance. I think this year it is going 
to be almost $20 billion in trade surplus. This is comparing the amount 
and the value of exports with imports of agriculture and food products.
  The House just recently passed a tax bill, reported out of the House 
Ways and Means Committee. It was my hope that we could take that bill 
up here and pass it in the Senate, because it delivers to farmers and 
farm families some new tax benefits that can help them in this time of 
crisis on the farm and would be good policy changes for the future, one 
of which permits a 5-year carryback of operating losses. Another makes 
permanent the income averaging provision of the more recent tax bill 
that was signed into law. Another accelerates the phasing in of 
exemptions of inheritance tax and gift tax for small businesses and 
farms. That is very helpful to farmers and farm families.
  Another provides 100 percent deductibility of the costs of self-
employed health insurance, health insurance for those people who work 
for themselves. In the past, they weren't able to deduct the costs of 
that health insurance.
  Under the bill that was reported out of the House Ways and Means 
Committee and passed by the other body, the total costs of that premium 
could be deducted from income tax. We should make that the law now. 
Farmers need that now. Farm families need that benefit now.
  Because of a threat by the Democrat minority, we can't call that bill 
up. We are told there will be an objection. And if a motion is made to 
proceed to consider the House bill, 60 votes would be required to shut 
off debate on the motion to proceed. So that bill is unlikely to be 
considered by the Senate, we are told, because of those objections and 
that resistance. Again the President said, ``If you pass it, I will 
veto that.''
  So farmers ought to know where the problem is. They are being told 
with big speeches out here and a lot of charts that the Democrats are 
the farmers' best friend. The evidence is piling up on the other side 
of that argument. I think it is going to become very, very clear that 
that is not the case.
  Here is another example. We have been told that American agriculture 
is suffering right now--unfairness in the international marketplace. 
People are erecting barriers to trade while we are trying to sell more 
in the market or break into a new market for agriculture products and 
foodstuffs, that we are running into barriers of one kind or another, 
and that the importation of certain foodstuff--cattle, wheat--from 
Canada violates existing rules of fair trade in this hemisphere. For 
months, the administration has done absolutely nothing that I know of 
to try to deal with that situation.

[[Page S11549]]

  One thing they asked last year of the Congress was to enact fast-
track negotiating authority for the administration so agreements to 
adjust these problems, to resolve the difficulties, could be negotiated 
and worked out. Congress would make a commitment that if fair 
agreements were worked out we would take them up under fast-track 
procedures and vote them up or down. So the Speaker of the House, as we 
were working to put together the disaster assistance program, agreed he 
would call up the fast-track authority legislation in the House for a 
vote; the Senate has acted. The House couldn't pass it because the 
Democrats wouldn't vote for it. A huge number of Democrats voted 
against it. The President, apparently without the ability to lead on 
that issue in the House, couldn't turn out the votes to pass the 
legislation he said was important, he said was needed to help 
agriculture. The Republican leadership called it up and most of them 
voted for it.
  I am suggesting that is another example of a problem that we have 
here in the government. I am not trying to put this into a partisan 
debate to say that the Republicans are right on everything and the 
Democrats are wrong; but I am pointing out these facts that exist in 
the context of trying to do something to help farmers and help 
  Most people live outside the United States, and if the growth is 
going to be achieved in agriculture sales and we are going to see 
increases in incomes and prices, we are going to have to sell more of 
what we produce in the export market. Mr. President, 95 percent of the 
people in this world live outside the United States. It is that area of 
the world where the population is growing the fastest. The needs are 
greater for foodstuffs.
  I hope, as Senators look at this problem and try to decide whether we 
are doing the right thing or not by approving this bill, they will 
recognize we can't solve every problem that this sector has in one 
bill. But this is a very positive step toward dealing with the real 
crisis that exists out there in agriculture today. I am hopeful that 
the Senate will vote for this conference report and that we will have a 
resounding vote to overturn and override the President's veto, if he 
insists on continuing down this path. It is wrong. It is not justified. 
I hope he will change his mind.
  I yield to the distinguished Senator from Idaho such time as he may 
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Idaho.
  Mr. CRAIG. Mr. President, let me join with my chairman, Senator Thad 
Cochran, chairman of the Agricultural Appropriations Subcommittee, who 
spoke with a certain amount of frustration in his voice just a few 
moments ago. He has every reason to be frustrated.
  This chairman has bent over backwards in the last 6 months trying to 
understand and address the agricultural crisis that is now upon 
America's production agriculture. He has joined with us--those of us 
here in the Senate who come from strong agricultural States--at every 
step along the way to see how we could resolve this under current 
policy. I don't blame his frustration.
  I came to the floor just a few moments ago to announce that the 
President is in town for the full week for the first time in a good 
many weeks, and the first thing he says is that he is going to veto the 
agriculture appropriations bill. I am critical of this President. Mr. 
President, wake up. You haven't had a position on agriculture your 
entire term in office. Now you say, ``I'm going to veto,'' at a time 
when this Congress has worked collectively, on a very strong bipartisan 
vote on the House side just last week, 333 House Members, Democrat and 
Republican, on the very issue that we have on the floor now that the 
chairman has spoken to and that we will vote on this afternoon.
  I am not quite sure why he is doing that. I suggested this morning 
that maybe it was a bit of ``Wag the Dog.'' I don't want to make 
accusations, but why isn't he helping us, working with us to resolve 
this, rather than simply addressing it with a veto threat.
  What has the bill to offer production agriculture? For the last 
several days, we have laid out the amount of money that is being spent 
that will go directly to farmers to offset the market losses that they 
have experienced, the very real and dramatic declines in commodity 
prices that are going to place some of our very good farmers and 
ranchers in bankruptcy. We want to be sensitive to that. This Congress 
is being sensitive to that with a $4.2 billion package. Payments 
directly to farmers who have experienced natural disasters--$1.5 
billion for that--who through no fault of their own, have lost their 
crops; market loss payments, reflective of what has gone on in the 
Pacific Rim and the loss of markets there, payments of about $1.65 
billion, directly down through to the farmer and the rancher; a 
multiple-year losses program of about $675 million; livestock feed 
assistance for those areas that were ``droughted'' out who obviously 
produced no feed for their livestock this year and are having to reach 
well outside their barriers and pay premium price for hay to be brought 
in; and, of course, emergency-related aid of about $200 million. This 
bill is very sensitive to the needs of production agriculture.
  What is the debate really about? Why would the President want to veto 
a bill that provides so much at a time of true need to production 
agriculture? As I said, it could be a ``Wag the Dog'' problem, but more 
importantly it is probably a debate over significant problems.
  We--Republicans--believe, and I think American agriculture supports a 
recognition that farmers ought to be farming to the market. The Freedom 
to Farm bill reflected that and we made significant change to policy. 
We also said government has a responsibility to break down the 
political barriers that the chairman spoke about to expand world trade, 
and yet the tools to do that are rusting down in the toolshed at USDA 
because they have failed to use them. Throughout the time this crisis 
was growing, not one kernel of grain was purchased for humanitarian 
purposes. Yet, the Secretary had the tools to do it. The Secretary had 
the tools to enhance trade for the purpose of moving the product that 
was stored out there on America's farms, or in America's granaries. 
Yet, that didn't happen. And now, all of a sudden, when we are trying 
to shape some form of aid to get us through this cropping season and 
keep what American farmers say is a good farm policy in place, the 
President takes time off from his world travels and his campaign 
fundraising events to say, ``I am going to veto this bill.''

  Mr. President, I hope you will study it a bit and change your mind, 
because if you think you are going to use an additional $3 billion or 
$4 billion from the surplus that you want to put in Social Security to 
save Social Security, think again. It isn't necessary and it isn't 
needed, and I don't think this Congress is willing to provide it. Those 
are the realities with which we are dealing.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The time of the Senator has expired.
  Mr. CRAIG. With that, Mr. President, I yield the floor.
  Mr. WELLSTONE addressed the Chair.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Minnesota is recognized.
  Mr. WELLSTONE. Mr. President, how much time do those in opposition 
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Twenty minutes.
  Mr. WELLSTONE. Does the manager know whether or not others are going 
to come over on our side?
  Mr. COCHRAN. If the Senator will yield, I think other Senators want 
to speak, but not right now. We have another hour, from 2:15 to 3:15, 
that will be available for debate. So as long as you see no competition 
on your side of the aisle, you have it all to yourself.
  Mr. WELLSTONE. I thank my colleague.
  Mr. President, I had a chance to speak yesterday and I don't want to 
really repeat the arguments I made yesterday. I do not intend to vote 
for this bill today, but I think that by the end of the week, or at 
least I am hopeful, we will be able to resolve our differences and pass 
a farm relief bill that will do the job--or at least will be a huge 
help for family farmers in Minnesota and across the country.
  Mr. President, the President of the United States indicated on 
Saturday that the farm relief bill--this bill that we are looking at 
right now, which we will be voting on--is inadequate. He

[[Page S11550]]

has said that more will need to be done with farm relief. It will have 
to be improved before he can sign an Agriculture appropriations bill. I 
am hopeful that either following the veto of this bill, or as part of 
the negotiations --and I think I have a different view from my 
colleague from Idaho, I am not sure--as part of the negotiations on the 
emergency supplemental packages, which may be included in an omnibus 
appropriations bill, we will see an improved version of this farm 
relief package.
  I said yesterday to my colleague from Mississippi, Senator Cochran, I 
much appreciate the work he has done. We have come a significant way 
from where we were. This is a $4 billion relief package. I think that 
given the position the President has taken --and as a Senator from 
Minnesota, I have certainly requested that he take this position; I 
have said I hope he will veto this bill or wait until we get some kind 
of relief package that I think would do a better job. I have to 
continue to fight as long and as hard as I can for family farmers in my 
State, for what I think will be most helpful to them. Frankly, I 
believe that given the Senators who are dealing with this question on 
both sides of the aisle--we all care fiercely about agriculture, and I 
think we have an understanding about it--I don't see any reason why, by 
the end of this week, given the position the President has taken, we 
can't have some really strenuous, but I think substantive, negotiations 
and come up with a much better relief package.
  Now, this relief package that my colleague, Senator Cochran, brings 
to the floor of the Senate is a credible effort. But I think it is 
insufficient. There is an inadequate amount of money, and I think it 
utilizes the wrong mechanism to deliver the assistance that is meant to 
address the price crisis. Let me just be clear about what is at issue 
here. Surely, given the position the President is taking, which is the 
position that the Senator from Minnesota and many other Midwestern 
Senators asked him to take, which is to make it clear that he will veto 
this bill unless there are negotiations and we can get a better 
  Why have we taken this position? Well, our proposal, $7 billion-plus, 
and the proposal we have before us on the floor of the Senate are 
similar in that both include between $2 billion and $2.5 billion for 
indemnity assistance for crop loss. This is an increase from the 
original $500 million, which many of us worked very hard to include in 
the original Senate bill. It is not surprising. There are a whole lot 
of people who have really been hit hard and who need the help.
  The Republican package, however, that is before us also contains an 
additional $1.7 billion. So there is agreement on the indemnity part. 
We went from $500 million to $2 billion to $2.5 billion. The Republican 
package also contains about $1.7 billion to address the price crisis. 
The way they deliver this assistance is through a supplemental or bonus 
transition payment, and that is where there is a big disagreement. The 
prices for our major commodities, such as wheat, corn and soybeans, are 
15 to 30 percent below the 5-year market average. Our $5 billion 
proposal to address the price crisis--where there is the difference 
here--would lift the current caps on the loan rate and raise those loan 
rates about 57 cents a bushel for wheat, about 28 cents a bushel for 
corn, and over 20 cents a bushel for soybeans. This would not only 
immediately boost farm income for the farmers of these commodities, but 
in raising the loan rate, it also has a beneficial effect on market 
prices. It tends to lift them up. That is why I think our proposal is 
  Mr. President, I worry about these transition payments because I 
think there are a couple of problems with them. First of all, these 
payments are based on the old farm program's historic yields. Farmers 
such as traditional soybean farmers, who never had a program based on 
the old program, don't get any of these AMTA payments. That is one huge 
problem. On the other hand, it is possible for some people who might 
not even have planted a crop to receive them because the Freedom to 
Farm--or what I call the ``Freedom to Fail''--payments are completely 
unconnected to production or price.
  I have to tell you, that is the key issue. That is the key 
difference. At the very minimum, in dealing with the price crisis, we 
ought to make sure that the payments are connected to production and 
price. So what we have here in this bill is the wrong mechanism for 
addressing the price crisis. Our proposal would lift the cap on the 
loan rates. I think there can be negotiation. The President is correct 
in vetoing this bill if that is what is required to get better 
assistance. Thousands of family farmers across the country could go out 
of business due to conditions that are beyond their control. In 
Minnesota, up to 20 percent of our family farmers are threatened. Now, 
the other part of this is that the Democratic proposal for the State of 
Minnesota is worth about an additional one-quarter of a billion 
  I ask the Chair, has 20 minutes expired?
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Twelve minutes remain.
  Mr. WELLSTONE. The proposal is worth an additional one-quarter of a 
billion dollars for agriculture in Minnesota, for rural Minnesota, for 
what we call ``greater Minnesota.'' It is no small amount of money, 
especially when you consider the multiplier effect in our communities.
  So I say to my colleague, Senator Cochran from Mississippi, this is a 
start. I am going to vote against this. The President has said he is 
going to veto it unless there is further negotiation. I think we can do 
better. I don't like the rider that basically continues another 6 
months with the dairy compact. I have dairy farmers in my State who are 
going under because of very unfair pricing mechanisms.

  In addition, I emphasis again, we are in agreement when it comes to 
crop losses, disaster, people who didn't have the insurance because of 
wet weather, scab disease or whatever. We are not in agreement on the 
  There are two problems. The main one is at the very minimum you have 
to target the price, whatever you do by way of dealing with low prices. 
You have to make sure that the payments are connected to the production 
of the price. Too many of these transition payments go to landowners, 
and not necessarily producers. I don't think that makes a lot of sense. 
Some, like soybean growers, won't be helped at all.
  I think we can do better on the price part. I think we have to do 
better if this relief package is going to do the job. I think we have 
some differences out here. They are honestly held differences. All of 
us care about agriculture. All of us know what the economic and 
personal pain is out there in the countryside.
  Some are quite often critical of some of the President's policies, 
but I thank him for exerting strong leadership on this question and for 
making it clear that surely this week in negotiations we can do better. 
We can come up with an even better package.
  My colleague from Mississippi brings a package out here that is an 
important start. We are going to get the job done by the end of the 
week or by next week. We are going to get the job done. We are going to 
have a relief package, because we have to, because that is why we are 
here. I believe we can do that through the negotiations that are to 

                            bison inspection

  Mr. ALLARD. Mr. President, I would like to engage in a colloquy with 
my good friend from Vermont, Senator Leahy regarding an issue that 
impacts bison ranchers nationwide as well as in both of our States.
  It is my understanding that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has 
taken major steps during the past year to ensure that our country's 
food supply is as safe as possible. USDA requires all firms that wish 
to sell meat to USDA and other Federal agencies to comply with newly 
adopted regulations known as HACCP.
  It is also my understanding that the beef, pork, and poultry 
industries are provided USDA inspection at no cost, and that ranchers 
who raise American bison must pay a steep fee to USDA for inspection at 
slaughter and inspection of products to be sold to USDA. These costs 
exceed $40 per hour, per inspector, both for inspection at slaughter 
and at further processing.
  I would like to ask my colleague on the Agricultural Appropriations 
Subcommittee, Senator Leahy, whether he

[[Page S11551]]

would agree with me that USDA should explore what impact inspection 
fees has on the bison industry?
  Mr. LEAHY. Yes, I do agree.
  It is my understanding that USDA collects substantial fees from those 
bison ranchers and processing firms for Federal inspection. It is my 
understanding that this fee is set yearly by USDA and that it is 
approximately $41 per hour. I believe that these fees directly impact 
thousands of small ranchers who belong to the National Bison 
  Mr. ALLARD. Would the Senator further support asking Secretary 
Glickman to report back this next year on ways in which USDA might 
lower the inspection fees to help strengthen the U.S. bison industry.
  Mr. LEAHY. We have bison ranchers in my state and in every other 
State in the country. I agree with the Senator that while we are 
looking for policies and programs that help small farmers and ranchers, 
we look carefully at all other actions that could make a difference. I 
believe that the issue of inspection fees charged bison producers 
should be explored by the Department of Agriculture, and that the 
Department should provide us with their analysis of this impact early 
in 1999.
  Mr. ALLARD. I thank the Senator for his comments.
  Mr. GORTON. Mr. President, on March 28, 1996, Congress passed the 
Federal Agricultural Improvement and Reform Act, most commonly referred 
to as the farm bill. This comprehensive, forward looking legislation 
provides U.S. agriculture the free market principles that our farmers 
and ranchers requested and desired. Government no longer dictates to 
farmers how much to plant, when to plant, when to buy, or when to sell. 
The farm bill provides the flexibility, predictability, and simplicity 
that our farmers and ranchers asked for from their government.
  In the past few months, agriculture in the United States has been 
impacted by chaotic world markets, natural disasters, and disease. 
These occurrences are not the result of the Farm Bill, but without a 
doubt have impacted the prices paid for U.S. commodities. As a member 
of the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, I had the opportunity 
to review and subsequently pass a disaster package as part of the 
Fiscal Year 1999 Agriculture Appropriations Conference Report. This 
package includes relief for those farmers who experienced one or all 
three of the aforementioned occurrences.
  The Pacific Northwest is experiencing misfortune that is not weather 
or disease related, but market related. Producers in the State of 
Washington rely heavily on international trade. Wheat growers in the 
state export approximately 85 percent of their crop. Our apple and 
minor crop industries rely heavily on Asia as an export market. When 
world markets collapse, so too does the price paid for each of these 
  The disaster package which is included in the conference report 
provides some relief for growers in Washington state. However, because 
a bulk of the assistance provided in the package will benefit farmers 
in the mid-west states, I voted with Senator Burns to increase the 
relief plan by $610 million. Although this plan was defeated, I believe 
the overall package is adequate and a necessary starting point for 
recharging the cash flow to the family farm. This package, combined 
with the Agriculture Market Transition Act payments farmers will 
receive in October and December of this year, and the loan deficiency 
payments for program crops totals over $17 billion in cash payments for 
1998 and 1999.
  Because Pacific Northwest agriculture is so trade dependent, I 
believe we must focus on expanding trade and gaining new markets. In 
this arena, I fear that the administration's silence has been 
  Two weeks ago the House defeated the bill to provide the President 
fast track-trade negotiating authority. Unfortunately, a wounded 
President and a weak Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture 
failed to convince our colleagues the importance of passing this 
legislation. With one in four jobs in the State of Washington directly 
related to trade, and with agriculture being the State's number one 
employer, the passage of fast track was essential.
  Just last week I made a statement regarding the administration's 
trade policy with China. Finally, a member of the Administration 
commented on the inability of the President to make headway with 
China's protectionist position. The Undersecretary of International 
Trade at the Department of Commerce admitted that U.S. trade policy 
with China is flawed and that the Administration's policy of 
`engagement' has not moved China toward free trade practices.
  China claims that wheat from our region is inflicted with a disease 
called TCK smut. At the bipartisan request of many Senators from the 
Pacific Northwest, the President was asked to discuss this bogus 
phytosanitary concern with Chinese President Jiang Zemin. The President 
personally met with President Zemin twice in the last two years, but 
the Pacific Northwest wheat industry remains locked out of another 
potential, enormous market.
  As a border state of Canada, Washington has encountered many trade 
discrepancies with our Northern counterparts. The beef trade between 
Washington and Canada has evoked bad feelings and more recently 
tensions escalated. Just two days ago, United States Trade 
Representative Charlene Barshefsky and Agriculture Secretary Dan 
Glickman announced their intention to begin intensive negotiations to 
resolve some of the restrictive trade practices utilized by Canada. 
While I applaud the Administration for taking this action, it is 
unfortunate that it comes only after ranchers in bordering States began 
blockading Canadian farm shipments. Agriculture trade relations have 
been thorny with Canada for quite some time, and many believe that the 
Administration's inability to support and defend the U.S. beef and 
wheat industries in negotiations with Canada have left agriculture with 
the short end of the stick. We are consistently being out-witted by the 
Canadian trade negotiators and the farmers and ranchers in this country 
are expected to pick up the pieces.
  These are just a few of the Administration's trade policies which 
directly impact the bottom line of farmers in the State of Washington. 
While I recognize and empathize with the family farm at a time when 
cash flow is sparse, I do not support the President or the 
Administration in its threats to veto the Agriculture Appropriations 
bill because the disaster package is not to their liking.
  There are several items that in addition to this disaster package, 
AMTA payments, and LDP payments which deserve attention. While 
expansion of trade is of obvious importance to the State of Washington 
and is certainly a long-term goal, regulatory relief, tax relief, 
adequate funding for agriculture research, and deductibility of health 
insurance for the self-employed are immediate mechanisms to provide 
assistance to the family farm. Unfortunately, the vehicles providing 
this relief--the Interior appropriations bill and the House passed tax 
package--are also under the threat of a Presidential veto.
  Mr. President, the Agriculture appropriations bill is a constructive 
piece of legislation that deserves our support. While the unfortunate 
politics of partisanship has appeared to weigh heavily on this 
legislation, I sincerely hope that the Administration would remember 
the family farm and the longevity of production agriculture in this 
country and sign the bill.
  Mr. LEAHY. Mr. President, if ironies were flowers the area inside the 
Washington beltway would be covered with fields of flowers sprouting 
out of every square inch of land.
  I am surprised that many of the same Senators who say they want 
farmers to receive higher income for what they produce strongly oppose 
the same for other farmers if the product is not produced in their home 
  Many Senators have recently spoken on the floor about the disaster 
facing their farmers. Some have likened it to losses caused by natural 
disasters such as Hurricanes. Regarding this farm disaster, their 
biggest concern is the huge loss in farm income. The culprit this time 
is low prices and the loss of farm income.
  In speech after speech many complain that their farmers face low 
prices--and thus low income. And, as is so often said, farmers do not 
want welfare they want higher income for their

[[Page S11552]]

labors. These Senators assert that farmers do not just want a handout--
they want higher prices so they can earn an reasonable income and stay 
in business.
  Whether the commodity is wheat, soybeans, corn, or other feedgrains 
we hear time and time again that prices are too low--and thus their 
farmers may go out of business.
  There is a sense of great panic in the farm community. It is real. I 
am advised that farm income in some areas has been reduced by 98 
percent. I have been moved by many of the compelling descriptions of 
the agony faced by these farm families. I am concerned about this even 
though my home state of Vermont is not as directly affected.
  Thomas Paine made an interesting comment about these situations which 
is still as true today as is was in 1776. He said: ``Panics, in some 
cases, have their uses. . . . their peculiar advantage is, that they 
are the touchstone of sincerity and hypocrisy, and bring things and men 
to light, which might otherwise have lain forever undiscovered.''
  There is indeed a touch of hypocrisy in this crisis. Some, including 
some at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, see the loan deficiency 
payments as a great solution. If prices drop below a target price the 
farmers get the difference between their market price and this target 
price. If prices increase above a certain level then the farmers cannot 
receive this cash payment. Recently I twice voted for these proposals 
along with every Democratic Senator save one.
  I do think this approach is a good idea and I hope in the end it is 
included in any continuing resolution we work out. It is important that 
any income relief in the resolution be targeted to 1998 year crop 
production and that it go to producers, not mere landowners.
  Many strongly support this approach for commodities produced by their 
farmers. However, if the benefit is to be provided to farmers not 
producing their commodities some turn a deaf ear. This is an 
unfortunate irony--some will not listen to the very arguments they use 
to support additional income to their farmers if other commodities are 
involved. I voted for their solution even though it is of little 
benefit to my home state of Vermont. Turning a deaf ear toward farm 
problems in other areas of the country raises a lot of concerns.
  The Northeast Interstate Dairy Compact is the perfect example. The 
major benefit of the compact is to provide income to farmers when milk 
prices are low--income is not provided to farmers when prices rise past 
a certain point. The amount of the payment a farmer gets depends on how 
far milk prices are below the target price. You could simply repeat 
those two sentences but substitute the word ``corn,'' ``soybeans'' or 
``wheat,'' or whichever commodity, for ``milk'' and you have described 
how the loan deficiency payment system works.
  Many certainly want this benefit for their commodities. Some Senators 
would rather their farmers get a check for increased ``freedom to farm 
payments'' instead of cash payments called loan deficiency payments. In 
this way these Senators provide cash to feedgrains producers to make up 
for the fact that farm prices are so low. Either way, almost all 
Senators want farmers to receive some additional cash payments. And 
farms families deserve this.
  But try to apply this system to milk prices and many Members of 
Congress and some in the Administration say ``no.''
  This is a major issue for me since more than 70 percent of all farm 
income in my state is from dairy. Vermont is first in the nation in 
terms of the relative importance of dairy to total farm income. This is 
why the Compact is crucial to me.
  Dairy farmers like other farmers work hard--milking cows early in the 
morning, moving cows around to pasture, feeding them, worrying about 
veterinary bills. I wish we could all work together on this matter--all 
areas of the country--and support farm income for all producers.
  I freely admit that the Compact does give dairy farmers a lot more 
income when prices are low. It is supposed to do that--just like loan 
deficiency payments. We are not concealing the fact that during the 
first 6 months of operation OMB reported that ``New England dairy farm 
income rose by an estimated $22-27 million . . . .''
  Several Senators from the Upper Midwest insisted that OMB do a study 
on the effects of the Compact. The OMB report is called the ``The 
Economic Effects of the Northeast Interstate Dairy Compact.'' I will be 
quoting a lot from that study that those Senators wanted in this floor 
  As a little background, the Interstate Dairy Compact Commission with 
26 delegates appointed by the six governors is authorized to determine 
a ``target price''--$16.94/cwt in this case. Under the Compact language 
approved by the six states any state can opt-out temporarily--until a 
later date that the state determines--or opt-in and receive that 
additional income for producers. The Compact is voluntary, it is up to 
each state.
  As I just pointed out in this respect, when prices are low the effect 
of the Compact is similar to the loan deficiency payments made under 
marketing loan programs in that, roughly speaking, producers get the 
difference between a ``capped'' target amount and the current price. 
When farm prices are high, no cash payments are made to producers under 
the Compact.
  Why is this additional income for dairy farmers as justifiable as 
additional income--whether in the form of loan deficiency payments or 
increased freedom to farm payments--for feedgrain farmers? The answer 
is simple--it keeps their families on the farm. All farmers deserve to 
earn a decent income for their families.
  This additional income to farmers in New England based on the Compact 
has kept farmers in business. For example, news articles have focused 
on how in Connecticut and Vermont the rate of farm loss is much less 
than before the Compact went into effect. Before the Compact, OMB 
reports that New England suffered a ``20-percent decline'' in the 
number of farms with milk cows from 1990 to 1996. Now, this horrible 
rate of attrition has stopped. I wish other states could also stop 
their loss of farm families. I have supported reasonable efforts to 
keep family farmers in business throughout our country and will insist 
on that in any continuing resolution.
  It is clear that efforts to keep dairy farmers in business will 
become more critical over time since, as OMB reports, ``the Farm Bill 
also calls for the termination of many elements of USDA's current dairy 
program by January 2000.'' Also, dairy producers do not receive any so-
called ``freedom to farm payments" for milk production and the milk 
support program will be terminated in the year 2000.
  Also, since dairy farmers sell a perishable fluid product that needs 
refrigeration they are not able to hold product off the market until 
they can get a better price. Feedgrains can be and are stored to get a 
better price--indeed the government will even give you a loan based on 
the value of the grain you are storing. This provides farmers with cash 
to pay bills--this program is not available regarding the production of 
  Of course, by taking this grain off the market this can have the 
effect of increasing grain prices. FAPRI has provided Congress with 
information on these anticipated increases in grain prices based on the 
marketing loan program.
  One disadvantage to increasing the caps in marketing loan programs, 
or increasing freedom to farm payments, is that it costs taxpayers a 
bundle--in this case several billion dollars. I voted for the marketing 
loan proposals twice because I think it is worth it to increase farm 
income in Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Missouri and a 
number of other states. While marketing loan programs do not benefit 
New England dairy farmers, I have always felt that farmers should stick 
together and help each other out. I wish more Members of Congress felt 
that way.
  I am very willing to work with my Colleagues from the Upper Midwest 
to try to figure a way so that all of us can work together. But I will 
insist on one thing--that our goal should be to protect income for 
dairy farmers and to keep farmers in business. I do have some ideas 
that I think we can all agree upon and want to sit down with my 
Colleagues from the Upper Midwest, and around the country, to work 
something out.
  I will support reasonable programs that benefit their farmers, as I 

[[Page S11553]]

farmers in others states and as I do for other commodities.
  As long as I am on the subject of the Compact I want to make a few 
additional points about how well it is working.
  First, I want to thank many of the Members of Congress who want to 
support farm income for all farmers--not just farmers producing 
feedgrains. I am very pleased that the Compact will get a short 
extension in the appropriations bill. Some opponents have begun 
complaining that it is included in the Agriculture Appropriations bill. 
It was included in the House bill and is now included in the Conference 
  I am very pleased with this since the 1996 farm bill created a three-
year Compact pilot project for the Northeast. However, long delays in 
implementing the Compact by USDA have cut that three-year period down 
to less than two years. That is not what the Congress had in mind when 
it passed a three-year time period in 1996. I am pleased that this 
Appropriations Bill will extend the Compact at least until September 
30, 1999, so that the Congress can find out how well it has served 
farmers. Even with this extension, the time-period is less than 
Congress set forth in 1996.
  It is interesting that one of my distinguished Colleagues blasted the 
Compact on the Senate floor by saying that dairy farmers have not seen 
positive benefits as a result of the compact. What surprises me about 
this statement is that most dairy farmers would say that a significant 
increase in their income over a six-month period was a ``positive 
  Maybe things are different in the Upper Midwest but New England 
farmers like this increase in income and consider higher income a 
positive benefit. It could be that since New England only produces 
three percent of the fluid milk in the nation that an increase of $22 
million to $27 million in income over a six month period, according to 
OMB, is not considered large by Upper Midwest standards.
  I also disagree with the complaint that under the Compact ``consumers 
have been hurt by higher prices.'' OMB has an answer for that which 
proves the value of the Compact. OMB reported after an initial increase 
in prices at some stores just as the Compact was implemented that: 
``New England retail milk prices by December [the sixth month after 
implementation] returned to the historical relationship to national 
levels, being about $0.05 per gallon lower.''
  So, OMB has concluded that consumer milk prices are lower in New 
England than the rest of the nation. I would like to repeat that--
consumer prices in New England with the Compact are lower than national 
levels. I would encourage a study to check out that relationship now--I 
am very confident that prices in New England are still lower than the 
rest of the nation.
  The Connecticut Agriculture Commissioner Shirley Ferris reports, ``In 
June of 1997, the month before the Compact took effect, the average 
retail price for a gallon of whole milk was $2.72. This June, almost a 
year after the Compact took effect, the price for a gallon of whole 
milk is only $2.73. And the price of a gallon of 1% milk is even less 
expensive now than before the Compact--$.03 less per gallon than last 
  Consumer milk prices, as economists had predicted, are lower in the 
Compact region than the average for the nation.
  Another interesting assertion--that milk consumption has dropped in 
the compact region--was made on the Senate floor recently. This is most 
odd since national data shows that the rate of milk consumption has 
dropped more in the rest of the nation than in the Compact region.
  According to the most recent A.C. Neilson Corporation marketing 
research data, U.S. gallon sales of fluid milk are down 1.8 percent 
compared to one year ago. New England gallon sales of fluid milk, 
however, have decreased by only 0.7 percent. National sales of fluid 
milk have declined 1.1 percent more than New England sales of fluid 
  In another assertion it was said that ``The only real winners have 
been the largest industrial dairies of the Upper Northeast.'' First of 
all, I am not certain if the use of Upper refers to Maine. Second, I am 
not certain what the ``largest industrial dairies'' means since our 
plants are so small compared to the Upper Midwest.
  And third, under the Compact, and as confirmed by the OMB study, it 
is the producers of milk, the farmers, who get the increase in income 
under the Compact. If anyone doubts that the dairy farmers in New 
England did not get increased pay checks someone should randomly call 
them on the phone and see if they really got the checks. I certainly 
have not heard complaints that the paychecks were lost in the mails.
  My distinguished Colleague also said that the Compact puts 
``traditional dairy farms'' outside the region ``at a competitive 
disadvantage.'' OMB reports just the opposite. But again, you do not 
need an OMB report. Simply pick up the phone and call some dairy 
producers who live near the Compact region. They are selling milk into 
the region to take advantage of the Compact. If Wisconsin or Minnesota 
switched places with New York State, farmers in Wisconsin and Minnesota 
would do the same--sell into the Compact region to make more income.
  While I do not know for sure, I suspect that dairy producers in 
Wisconsin and Minnesota would like more income for all their hard 
labor. Vermont dairy farmers and neighboring New York dairy farmers 
sure do.
  OMB reports there has been ``an increase in milk shipments into New 
England equal to 8 percent.'' This is not surprising since neighboring 
producers get higher prices for their milk in the compact region.
  Except for this benefit for neighboring farmers living just outside 
the Compact region, OMB reported that ``New England has little effect 
on dairy markets outside its region, or on national prices or trends. . 
. . Its shipments outside the region in the form of cheese or milk are 
  Opponents of the Compact have constantly repeated that it would be a 
``trade barrier'' on sales into New England. I could point to many 
statements to this effect on the floor.
  I predicted before the Compact was implemented, on the other hand, 
that since the law required that anyone could sell into the region and 
since the law required that these sellers get the benefit of the 
Compact, that there would be increased sales into the region.
  I was correct--and the evidence reported by OMB shows that 
neighboring farmers get the benefit of the higher Compact price and 
thus there has been an increase of sales into the region of 8 percent.
  This Compact has thus increased trade. Something that increases trade 
is not usually called a trade barrier.
  As an interesting footnote OMB reports that the Compact commission 
decided to provide additional money for New England WIC programs so 
that more eligible infants, children and pregnant women would be able 
to participate than would have participated without the Compact. The 
OMB report states that the ``Compact could support a small increase in 
participation during the demonstration period.'' The Commission has 
recently decided to provide additional funding to the school lunch 
  I also want to address the surplus production issue. As background, 
note that if New England regional milk production decreases less--or 
increases more--than the national rate, the farm bill requires that the 
Commission reimburse the federal government for the cost of Commodity 
Credit Corporation purchases of any ``surplus production'' that might 
  This year the Commission will pay a reimbursement as determined by 
the Secretary. Very favorable conditions in New England and low 
feedgrain prices and very unfavorable weather conditions throughout 
much of the rest of the country created this shift even though there 
was decrease--2,000 fewer--in cows milked from April to June 1998.
  As these relatively very unfavorable weather conditions in the rest 
of the country subside I expect that New England's rate of production 
will once again grow at a lower rate than the rest of the country--
especially with the drop in cows milked in New England. Also note that 
almost all of the CCC purchases were of milk product from other regions 
of the country.
  To provide some perspective, I also wanted to mention that OMB 
reports that in 1996, ``New England accounted for 2.93 percent of the 
Nation's milk

[[Page S11554]]

production and 2.9 percent of its milk cows.''
  As the OMB report shows if other states had a dairy compact, farmers 
in those states could receive a significant increase in income. So why 
are some supporting billions' worth of increases in payments to farmers 
producing nondairy commodities but are opposed to increases in farm 
income to dairy farmers?
  The answer is easy. Sir Walter Scott knew many years ago that: ``Oh, 
what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.''
  Corporate opponents of the Compact have tried to argue that this was 
a fight between consumers and farmers. The OMB study proves that 
consumer prices are lower in New England than the average for the rest 
of the country. So that is a false argument.
  The fight is actually between large manufacturers of milk products--
large multinational corporations--and farmers. Manufacturers of any 
product, not just manufacturers of cheese or ice cream, want to buy 
their inputs as cheaply as possible.
  How do we know that? As with the answers to many questions all you 
have to do is follow the money. Who is buying ads and time to distort 
the truth? Who is staffing up to fight the Compact? And who mostly 
wants the Compact defeated?
  It certainly isn't farmers in areas that border the Compact region. 
They take advantage of the Compact's open invitation to trade--and make 
more money selling into the Compact region.
  It certainly isn't consumers since they get lower prices than the 
average for the rest of the nation. It certainly isn't farmers living 
in the region since they have gotten a significant boost in farm 
  To find out the answer one just has to look at lobbying reports that 
have to be filed in Washington. Who funded efforts and hired people to 
oppose the Compact?
  Groups representing the large manufacturers of milk products--that's 
who. The International Dairy Food Association for example. Their 
members, like any manufacturers, want to buy their inputs at low cost.
  One of their members, Kraft, which is owned by a large tobacco 
company, wants to pass a bill that will allow them to buy milk at less 
than the price set by milk marketing orders through something called 
forward contracting. This could greatly increase their profits.
  They also oppose the dairy compact. The Compact has producers selling 
milk at more than the level set by milk marketing orders. Under the 
Dairy Compact, producers receive an over-order premium which means that 
they get more money than the minimum set by the order, not less.
  So why was there ever a concern about consumer prices increasing in 
the Compact region? Prices should have never increased.
  The Wall Street Journal and the New York Times discussed this in news 
articles about retail store price gouging. GAO raised the issue in 1991 
and is looking at it now.
  We do know that retail prices for milk are often over double what 
farmers get for their milk--nationwide. Think about that.
  Lets look at the time period just before the compact took effect--and 
pick Vermont as the sample state. As the Wall Street Journal pointed 
out, in ``Are Grocers Getting Fat by Overcharging for Milk?,'' 
beginning in November, 1996, the price that farmers got for their milk 
dropped by almost 25 percent--35 cents or so per gallon. Store prices 
stayed high which locked in a huge benefit to stores selling to 
consumers. 35 cents a gallon is a significant increase in benefits to 
retail stores.
  Comparing November 1996, to June 1997, the price farmers got for 
their milk dropped 35 cents a gallon, and stayed low, but the prices 
stores charged for milk stayed about the same.
  I have always contended that Dairy Compacts can help reduce this 
retail store price inflation by stabilizing the price that farmers get 
for milk--thus reducing the need for stores to build in a safety 
cushion to protect themselves in case it costs more for them to 
purchase milk.
  Without a compact, the price farmers get for their milk can vary 
significantly. These variations in price are passed through to stores 
by co-ops and other handlers. Yet stores prefer not to constantly 
change prices for customers so they build in a cushion. But this huge 
profit margin can be reduced by Compacts which means that Dairy 
Compacts will save consumers money and provide more income to farmers.
  Unfortunately, the OMB study is based on very limited information 
from USDA. USDA only gave OMB price information from 6 stores in New 
England--and only in two cities where it was announced in press 
accounts, in advance, that retail prices would go up even though store 
and wholesaler costs had dropped 35 cents per gallon.
  Even in light of this OMB concluded that after 6 months, retail store 
prices in the compact region of New England were 5 cents lower than the 
rest of the nation.
  New England newspaper accounts of the implementation of the Compact 
were very interesting. For example, the July 1, 1997, the Portland 
Press Herald, Portland, Maine, points out that ``Cumberland Farms 
increased the price of whole milk by four cents but dropped the price 
of skim by a penny'' when the Compact was implemented.
  Also, they note that ``At Hannaford's Augusta store, Hood milk--a 
brand-name product--was selling for $2.63 a gallon, while the Hannaford 
store brand was selling for $2.32.''
  Also, ``Shaw's increased its price by about 20 cents a gallon in 
[parts of] the five other New England states but kept the price the 
same here [in Maine].''
  The June 26, 1997, Boston Globe and the June 27, Providence Journal 
pointed out before the Compact was implemented that one of the chains 
signaled a price increase. A spokesman for Shaw's Supermarkets, Bernard 
Rogan, is quoted as saying that milk prices will go up next week
  The June 30, Boston Globe reported that ``The region's major 
supermarkets are raising their milk prices 20 cents a gallon, ignoring 
arguments that their profit margins are big enough to absorb a new 
price subsidy for New England dairy farmers that takes effect this 
  As OMB discovered, after six months this initial signaled increase, 
described above, was being subjected to competitive pressures and that 
consumer prices in New England were on average lower than the rest of 
the nation.
  Studies of prices charged in stores in Vermont, for example, show 
that the most important factor in the price of milk is the brand and 
the store. In cities and towns in Vermont the variation in price among 
stores was in the 50 cents to one dollar range. In other words, in the 
same town the price of a gallon of milk varied greatly and still does.
  These store variations, and variations through the use of store 
coupons, dwarf any possible impact of the compact.
  Also note that reports have indicated that the dairy case is the most 
profitable part of a supermarket. The product profitability of fluid 
milk is $16.46 per square foot, whereas regular grocery items return 
only $2.32 per square foot. This information is from testimony of 
Professor Andrew Novakovic, on April 10, 1991, before the Committee on 
Agriculture of the U.S. House of Representatives.
  All other food expenditures dwarf how much income that consumers 
spend on fluid milk. The savings consumers can achieve through buying 
``on sale'' or house-brand items, or through using discount coupons, 
far exceed typical changes in the price of fluid milk. Only 3 percent 
of the average household's total expenditures on food go for fluid 
milk. This information is from an article called ``Food Cost Review,'' 
1995, from the Economic Research Service of U.S.D.A.
  Note also that OMB reported that the Northeast has the Nation's 
second highest cost of dairy production ($14.27 per cwt in 1996) and 
its milk generated the lowest returns per cwt after expenses. OMB found 
that a smaller proportion of New England farms are competitive than in 
other regions. Net average returns per cow in Vermont are $350 per year 
and in Wisconsin are $460 year. OMB determined that the Compact 
generated about $70 more in annual income per cow.
  So why all the fuss about the compact and who is generating it?
  For one, Kraft, the international milk manufacturing giant, opposes 

[[Page S11555]]

compact. Kraft's annual U.S. sales exceed $16 billion. They are owned 
by Phillip Morris, the tobacco giant.
  Perhaps the writer Ben Johnson said it best: ``Whilst that for which 
all virtue now is sold, And almost every vice--almighty gold.''
  IDFA, which receives funding from Kraft which is owned by big 
tobacco, went on a spending spree. One big staff acquisition was from 
Public Voice for Food and Health Policy. The very person who led Public 
Voice's press attack on the Compact was negotiating for a job with the 
milk manufacturers who opposed the Compact.
  Lobbying registration forms show the whole sad story.
  In June 1996, the Senior Vice President for Programs at Public Voice 
publicly defended his organization from charges that its analysis was 
influenced by corporate contributions.
  A Lobby Registration form filed in July 1996 shows that he worked for 
William Wasserman of M & R Strategic as a ``consultant'' for this 
lobbying arm of IDFA.
  This is the major reason I returned the golden carrot award back to 
Public Voice. It is one thing to have honest disagreements about 
policy. It is another to be working on getting a job with opponents of 
the Compact at the same time you are leading the charge for Public 
Voice against the Compact. The Lobbying Reports tell the story.
  There is an unseemly web of money and promises between the dairy 
processors and Public Voice.
  For example, we know that during a critical time period between 
January 1995 and June 1996, Public Voice accepted $41,000 from the 
International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA).
  We do not know how much IDFA has contributed to Public Voice after 
June 1996 or how much any of IDFA's corporate members and officers of 
those corporations have individually contributed to Public Voice. We do 
not know how much big tobacco gives to Public Voice. I have always 
expected that it is a huge number considering the large salaries IDFA 
pays to its top officers.
  For a six-month period in 1996, IDFA paid at least $30,000 to M & R 
Strategic Services for its lobbying efforts.
  These are all public facts documented by lobbying disclosure forms or 
derived directly from quotes from Public Voice officials.
  This overwhelming and unseemly evidence compelled me to conclude 
that, for Public Voice, when it comes to the Dairy Compact, 
contributions come first, and analysis comes second. The New York Times 
and other editorial pages have relied upon the numbers provided by 
Public Voice to substantiate their editorials against the Compact, but 
we now know those numbers were cooked, and flat-out wrong.
  I challenged Public Voice to release the names of any dairy-related 
or tobacco-related contributors and how much they contributed during 
the last three years. They have not done so yet. I would be pleased 
just to know if the amount is $100,000 or $500,000, total, over the 
last three years.
  IDFA also made other major acquisitions. They hired the Director of 
Consumer Affairs at USDA, William Wasserman, who set up a subsidiary 
called the ``Campaign for Fair Milk Prices'' through M & R Associates.
  Money can solve a lot of problems. For example, his Lobby Report 
filed on August 15, 1996, shows his client as IDFA and shows him 
specifically working on the ``Northeast Dairy Compact.'' His Lobbying 
Registration form filed on February 13, 1996, shows he worked for IDFA 
on dairy price supports and marketing orders.
  A key USDA official who represented USDA at dairy meetings on Capitol 
Hill was also hired by IDFA. Mr. Charles Shaw is now listed as Senior 
Economist and Director of IDFA in the book 1997 Washington 
  Listed as ``counsel or consultants'' for IDFA are--you guessed it--M 
& R Strategic Services lobbyists Allen Rosenfeld and William Wasserman 
in 1997 Washington Representatives.
  I will explain the importance of this in a minute. Before I begin I 
want to point out that the battle over the Compact is really a battle 
between well-off dairy manufacturers and struggling dairy farmers.
  These huge dairy manufacturers cannot win over the editorial boards 
of The New York Times or The Washington Post on that basis.
  But if a group like Public Voice carries their public relations 
message, casting this as a consumer issue, they have a foot in the 
  Public Voice has focused on the price increases which took place just 
as the Compact was implemented. I mentioned these price signaling 
newspaper articles earlier.
  But Public Voice has ignored the conclusion that consumer prices are 
lower in New England than the average for the nation. I wonder why.
  I wonder how much money they have received from all the major 
manufacturers of milk and tobacco companies throughout the country over 
the last three years? I wonder how much money they have received from 
IDFA and other groups that represent manufacturers over the last three 
years? I wonder how many others they will hire to influence public 
opinion in a way that supports the efforts of huge milk manufacturers 
against the interest of dairy farmers in New England?
  I want to make one final point. The New York Times has reported on 
how important the Compact is for the environment. In an article 
entitled ``Environmentalists Supporting Higher Milk Price for Farmers'' 
it was explained that keeping farmers on the land maintains the beauty 
of New England.
  A lack of farm income resulting from low dairy prices is cited as the 
major reason dairy farmers leave farming in New England. Production 
costs in New England are much higher than in other areas of the nation 
while the value of the land for nonfarm purposes is often greater than 
its value as farmland.
  In many cases I am advised that this is very different as compared to 
vast areas of the Midwest and Upper Midwest where land is worth very 
little except for its value as farmland. As the Vermont Economy 
Newsletter reported in July 1994:

       In the all important dairy industry, the decrease in farm 
     income has come from a continuation of the long term trends 
     the industry has been facing. Should these trends persist, 
     and there is every expectation they will, Vermont will 
     continue to see dairy farms disappearing from its landscape 
     during the 1990s.

  One of the consequences of the exit of dairy farmers in New England 
is that land is released from agriculture. Given the close proximity to 
population centers and recreational areas in New England, good land is 
in high demand, and as a result there is often a strong incentive to 
develop the land.
  What are the consequences of land being converted from farm to non-
farm uses?
  One consequence is that the rural heritage and aesthetic qualities of 
the working landscape are lost forever. The impact of this loss would 
be devastating to Vermont and to much of New England. The tourists from 
some of America's largest urban centers are drawn to rural New England 
because of its beauty, its farms and valleys, and picturesque roads.
  Strip malls and condominiums do not have the same appeal to 
  The Vermont Partnership for Economic Progress, noted in its 1993 
report, A Plan for a Decade of Progress: Actions for Vermont's Economy, 
``There are many issues that will influence the [tourism] industry's 
future in Vermont . . . [including] our state's ability to preserve its 
landscape.'' The report went on to list among its primary goals:

       1. Maintain the existing amount of land in agriculture and 
     related uses;
       2. Preserve the family farm as part of our economic base 
     and as an integral factor in Vermont's quality of life from 
     ``A Plan for a Decade of Progress.''

  The priority of these goals show that preserving farmland and a 
viable agriculture industry are important for the overall economic 
health of the region from Maine, to rural parts of Connecticut, Rhode 
Island, and Massachusetts, to Vermont and New Hampshire.
  Other consequences of farm losses are equally destructive. The 
American Farmland Trust has completed cost of community services 
studies in four New England towns, one in Connecticut and three in 
Massachusetts. The information is from ``Does Farmland Protection 
  These studies show the cost of providing community services for 
farmland and developed land. It is true that developed land brings in 
more tax revenues than farmland, especially when farmland is assessed 
at its agricultural value, as it is in most New England

[[Page S11556]]

states. Developed land, however, requires far more in the way of 
services than the tax revenues it returns to the treasuries of 
  For example, residential land in these four New England towns 
required $1.11 in services for every one dollar in tax revenue 
generated while the farmland required only $0.34 of services for every 
one dollar of revenue it generated. This demonstrates the major impact 
that losing dairy farmland has on rural New England. This information 
is from ``Does Farmland Protection Pay?''
  National Geographic recently detailed the risk of economic death by 
strip malling otherwise tourist-drawing farmland. New England should be 
allowed to try to reverse this trend, especially in ways that help 
neighboring states such as under the Compact.
  The American Farmland Trust Study pointed out that agricultural land 
actually enhanced the value of surrounding lands in addition to 
sustaining important economic uses.

       Farming is a cost effective, private way to protect open 
     space and the quality of life. It also supports a profusion 
     of other interests, including: hunting, fishing, recreation, 
     tourism, historic preservation, floodplain and wetland 
     protection. ``Does Farmland Protection Pay?''

  Keeping land in agriculture and protecting it from development is 
vitally important for all of New England, which is one reason all six 
New England states have funded or authorized purchase of agricultural 
conservation easement programs to help protect farmland permanently.
  Other economic uses, from condominiums and second homes for retired 
or professional people from New York, Boston, or Philadelphia to 
shopping malls to serve them, are waiting in the wings. The pressure to 
develop in New England is voracious.
  A 1993 report from the American Farmland Trust called ``Farming on 
the Edge'' showed that only 14 of the more than 67 counties in New 
England, were not significantly influenced by urban areas.
  In fact, eight New England counties were considered to be farming 
areas in the greatest danger of being lost to development because of 
their high productivity and close proximity to urban areas. The 
Champlain and Hudson River Valleys were considered to be among the top 
12 threatened agricultural areas in the entire country according to 
this ``Farming on the Edge'' study.
  Dairy farming is New England's number one agricultural industry, and 
a lack of farm income is a major cause for farmers leaving dairying. 
This discussion underscores the compelling need for the Northeast 
Interstate Dairy Compact because towns will not only lose their rural 
character with the loss of farms, but they will suffer economic 
consequences as well. New England suffer the economic losses of the 
economic activity from farming, but will spend more in services than 
they gain in revenue as good farmland gets developed.
  I need to address one more dairy issue, milk marketing order reform. 
This bill does give USDA a few more months to study this critical 
issue. I have been fighting for a fair revision of the milk marketing 
orders as have other Colleagues. Although dairy farmers across the 
country have told the Agriculture Department that they prefer Option 1-
A, the Department continues to support Option 1-B.
  It has been made clear that the U.S. Department of Agriculture 
prefers Option 1-B for fluid milk pricing, even though it has been 
demonstrated that this system would be disastrous for dairy farmers 
across the country. Economists for AgriMark estimate that under Option 
1-B, dairy farmers' income would drop by $365 million dollars next 
year--that is a loss of $1 million each and every day of the year. I am 
told by economists at AgriMark that Option 1-B reduces farm income in 
almost every area of the country.
  I am also told that every area of the country, including the Upper 
Midwest, will have higher farm income under Option 1-A as compared to 
Option 1-B.
  At the close of the comment period for milk pricing reform, I was 
joined by 60 Senators in a letter to USDA supporting Option 1-A. Option 
1-A is the only option which is both fair and equitable to farmers 
while promising to continue providing consumers with reasonably priced 
fresh, wholesome milk.
  Mr. President, this year Vermont farmers took a one-two punch from 
Mother Nature. The unprecedented ice storm this winter that knocked out 
power across the state, forcing farmers to cull their herds, dump milk 
and scramble for feed. This summer's flooding hit many of these same 
farmers just as their crops were starting to produce. Their fields have 
been saturated with water ever since leaving them without feed going 
into the winter. Ten out of the fourteen counties in Vermont have been 
declared National Disaster Areas by the President this year.
  Because the margins are already so close for many farmers, helping 
these farmers recover from their feed losses could mean the difference 
between staying in business or selling out. The Livestock Feed 
Assistance Program will help Vermont farmers get through the winter and 
not be overwhelmed by recovery costs. I visited these farms after the 
ice storm and went back again to some of the same areas after the 
  What I heard at every farm I visited was very simple: farmers need 
enough assistance to get them through this season. They do not expect a 
lot of assistance, but they do expect it to be fast and they expect it 
to be fair.
  Unfortunately, disaster assistance programs have not always worked 
this way. Too often, the criteria and program thresholds developed by 
the national office do not catch the small, family dairy farms we have 
in the Northeast. The disasters that hit Vermont this year caused 
damage much like what you see after a tornado. One farm may have lost 
half his crop while his neighbor may not have been touched. But the way 
the disaster programs work now, if the county as a whole did not 
sustain at least 40 percent damage, none of the farmers hit by the 
disaster would be eligible for assistance.
  In addition, these programs often require a farmer to sustain at 
least 40 or 50 percent damage on his farm. This requirement has 
prevented many farmers who are barely making it anyway from getting 
assistance. After the ice storm, many Vermont farmers were tinkering at 
the edge of losing their farms.
  I know that Secretary Glickman shares my commitment to preserving the 
family farm and I look forward to working with him to make sure these 
disaster programs are flexible enough to help our small, family farms. 
Let me quote a letter from Edie Connellee and Bill Cartright of 
Waitsfield, Vermont, ``I hope we all purposefully remember to use this 
experience as a way to better be a community and especially remember 
that small acts of kindness, even just a phone call, make a huge 
difference when someone is hurting in any way.'' I hope this is the 
approach the Agriculture Department will take when implementing these 
disaster programs.
  Finally, Mr. President, let me take a moment to talk about the 
funding levels for the conservation programs in this year's Agriculture 
Appropriations bill. When we passed the 1996 Farm Bill one of 
cornerstones of that package was the mandatory funding for the 
conservation programs. We set aside $200 million a year for the 
Environmental Quality Incentives Program. Unfortunately, it was all too 
tempting for the appropriators to cap that program this year at $175 
million and use the savings elsewhere. In a year where we have seen 
state legislation regulating agriculture waste on farms and new 
regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency, this program is 
all the more critical to making sure farmers can comply with these 
  Having worked with dairy farmers across Vermont, but especially 
around Lake Champlain and Lake Memphremagog, I know how committed they 
are to protecting our watersheds from farm run-off. Vermont farmers 
lead the country in developing innovative techniques to control 
agriculture waste. But they cannot do it alone. The EQIP cost-share 
payments help them do the right thing without putting them in a 
financial bind. Now is not the time to be slowing down such a 
successful program.
  Mr. SHELBY. Mr. President, I rise today to add my voice to the debate 
regarding the FY 1999 Agriculture Appropriations bill. While I know 
this bill

[[Page S11557]]

contains numerous important items including funding for agricultural 
research, credit programs, conservation programs, and food safety 
initiatives, I want to specifically mention my concern regarding the 
portions of this legislation which provide emergency relief to 
America's farmers.
  The last few years have been very difficult for America's farmers. I 
know this very well because of the numerous difficulties suffered by 
farmers in my state of Alabama. Last year, North Alabama was hit with 
an especially cold and rainy spring which greatly reduced the yields of 
cotton farmers. Peanut farmers in Southeastern Alabama were hit with a 
toxic mold blight which cost them greatly when they tried to market 
their peanuts. Before the close of the Summer of 1997, Hurricane Danny 
dumped inches of rain on and brought devastating winds to Southwestern 
Alabama. This storm alone caused millions of dollars in crop losses and 
farm related damages.
  Mr. President, unfortunately I cannot say that weather conditions 
improved much in Alabama this year. Early spring flooding was followed 
by devastating heat and drought. Alabama's cotton producers, corn 
producers, cattle producers and peanut producers were forced to battle 
extreme conditions as they tried to keep crops and livestock alive. If 
this was not enough, Hurricane Georges swept through the Gulf Coast 
this past week and caused millions of dollars more in crop losses.
  To add insult to these weather-induced injuries, the troubled 
economic conditions in Asia and throughout other parts of the world 
have decreased the number of available markets for our farmers. The 
loss of these markets has in turn led to lower prices. Where our 
farmers have actually made a crop, they are finding that the market has 
bottomed out and there is very little profit available to them.
  Mr. President, a series of natural disasters coupled with economic 
collapse have hit Alabama's farmers extremely hard. They need help.
  I am well aware of the fact that many other regions have suffered 
significant farm-related losses. As I have pointed out, however they 
have not been affected exclusively. I want the devastation that 
Alabama's farmers have suffered to be recognized on the record.
  Mr. President, this bill provides $2.1 billion in disaster assistance 
funding and grants the Secretary of Agriculture broad discretion to 
implement disaster assistance awards. I urge the Secretary to make a 
full and complete review of all the factors affecting farmers in every 
region of the country. I want it noted that I believe that it is 
fundamentally important that the Secretary be aware of the extreme 
conditions that have befallen farmers in my state.
  When Secretary Glickman makes the awards for farm disasters and 
economic losses, I want him to make them based on a fair appraisal of 
all farm losses throughout the country. I believe that all my 
colleagues will agree. Our farmers deserve no less.
  Mr. ENZI. Mr. President, I rise to speak on the Agriculture 
appropriations conference report. I commend Senator Cochran for his 
hard work in putting together this bill to fund our Nation's 
agricultural and nutrition programs and to provide emergency assistance 
to America's farmers in this difficult year.
  I am disappointed, however, that some provisions that would have 
benefited our Nation's family ranchers who are also suffering from low 
commodity prices were dropped from the final conference report. 
Although these measures were unsuccessful this year, I am confident 
that they will come before the Senate again next year and I intend to 
work hard for their passage.
  In particular, I am disappointed that the amendment to require the 
labeling of imported meat was dropped from the final package. I 
strongly believe that we need to require foreign meat products to be 
clearly labeled as such. I support free trade, but in order to have 
free trade you need to have full disclosure. American consumers have a 
right to know if the meat they are buying has been produced in our 
Nation. American stockgrowers have a strong record of producing top 
quality products, and the American consumer should have the ability to 
identify these top quality products in the grocery store.
  I am also disappointed that the amendment to establish a price 
reporting pilot project was dropped. Many of my constituents who are 
family ranchers are very concerned about the current state of the 
packing industry, notably the increase in packer concentration. I share 
their concerns. Although I generally do not favor government mandates 
on any industry, I believe that the price reporting amendment would 
have provided us with more transparency to determine what effect the 
recent trend towards consolidation in the packing industry has had on 
cattle prices.
  In addition, I think we need to add fairness to our meat inspection 
programs by allowing State-inspected meat to move across State lines. 
We already allow Canadian and Mexican meat products to be sold in our 
Nation based on a promise that their standards are the same as ours. 
There is no reason for our government to trust foreign inspectors and 
not State inspectors. We need to level the playing field for meat 
inspections to help out our small packers. Allowing small packers to 
ship their products across State lines is not only fair, it would also 
increase competition in the packing industry. Unfortunately this 
important issue was not considered this year at all.
  So Mr. President, while I will not object to this Agriculture 
appropriations bill because I recognize how important it is to 
America's farmers, I am disappointed that it did not do more to address 
the financial problems facing our Nation's ranching industry. Family 
ranchers are struggling with the lowest beef prices in over 20 years. 
Their problems are not now and never have been addressed by huge 
government spending programs. But Congress should take action to 
provide free and fair competition in the livestock industry. The three 
measures I have just outlined would do just that, and I will work hard 
to make sure that they receive the careful consideration of Congress 
next year.

                         water quality research

  Mr. DORGAN. Mr. President, I would like to ask a few questions of my 
friend from Arkansas, Senator Bumpers, regarding the water quality 
component of the Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension 
Service (CSREES) Special Grants Program. In particular, I note that 
although the Senate agriculture appropriations bill for fiscal year 
1999 included $436,000 for water quality grant in North Dakota, the 
conference report now before us has moved those funds into a separate 
water quality item. Could the Senator explain the reason for this 
  Mr. BUMPERS. Over the past several years, the Congress has funded 
water quality grants through three separate items with in the CSREES 
Special Grants Program, including the two the Senator from North Dakota 
mentions. The fiscal year 1999 appropriations bill which Senator 
Cochran and I reported to the Senate earlier this year included a total 
of $2,897,000 for these activities. This amount includes funds at last 
year's level for the North Dakota program and the balance directed to 
the undesignated water quality item. The House included the third water 
quality grant and provided a total of $3,389,000 for all water quality 
special grants.
  The conferees recognized the need to strengthen our cooperative 
research activities for water quality, in a manner similar to the 
treatment of food safety and other priority research areas, and decided 
to consolidate and increase the funding level for water quality through 
the CSREES Special Grants Program. Accordingly, all funding for water 
quality research was moved to a single item and in recognition of the 
excellent record of the North Dakota program, language was included in 
the Statement of Managers explaining that the North Dakota program 
should continue to secure funding through that item.
  Mr. DORGAN. I thank the Senator for that explanation. Is the Senator 
from Arkansas aware of the work underway in North Dakota regarding 
water quality?
  Mr. BUMPERS. Yes, I am. I understand the North Dakota program, 
developed through the Red River Water Management Consortium (RRWMC) is 
doing important work to help understand the occurrence, transport, and

[[Page S11558]]

fate of agricultural chemicals in the Northern Great Plains region. I 
believe it is also noteworthy that the RRWMC is a basin-wide water 
management group, comprised of a number of government and industry 
stakeholders throughout the water basin and has included partners from 
municipalities, agricultural industries, county governments, resource 
conservation and development organizations, and public utilities. 
Cooperation and coordination of all these groups is vital and the 
network established in North Dakota should serve as an excellent model 
for other parts of the United States where water contamination, 
especially from agricultural runoff, posses a real or potential threat 
to the environment and public health.
  Mr. DORGAN. I appreciate the Senator's understanding of the 
importance of this research and his familiarity with the RRWMC's 
activities. Is it the understanding of the Senator from Arkansas that 
the goals of the North Dakota project are consistent with the overall 
water quality research objectives of CSREES?
  Mr. BUMPERS. Yes, I believe they are. The CSREES water quality 
programs are intended to help investigate the impacts of non-point 
source pollution and recognize the public's concern about the possible 
risks to the environment resulting from the use of agricultural 
chemicals. Therefore, the purpose of the RRWMC's activities are clearly 
consistent with the goals of the agency's water quality research 
mission. Further, I understand that the RRWMC has been able to leverage 
non-federal funds on a ratio of about two to one. Given current budget 
constraints, this accomplishment is to be commended especially in 
recognition of the fact that the CSREES water quality grant has 
received nearly $48 million in appropriations since 1990 and has only 
been able to leverage approximately $1 million per year during that 
time. The record of RRWMC in leveraging non-federal funds is, 
therefore, all the more impressive and worthy of these federal dollars. 
In view of the important ongoing work of the RRWMC on the important 
issues of water quality protection, their cooperative relationships 
with a wide variety of stakeholders, and their ability to leverage non-
federal resources, I believe the conferees would agree that RRWMC 
should be able to secure funding of, at least, last year's level in the 
coming fiscal year.
  Mr. DORGAN. I appreciate the Senator's understanding of the fine work 
of the RRWMC and his words of encouragement for their activities under 
CSREES in the coming fiscal year.
  Mr. KEMPTHORNE. Mr. President, I rise today to delcare my support for 
the fiscal year 1999 Agriculture appropriations bill.
  American agriculture is in a state of emergency. No one who has read 
a commodity report in the last few months would disagree. Wheat and 
barley prices are at record lows as are prices for other important 
Idaho agricultural products. In August, I talked to growers all over 
Idaho who are on the verge of bankruptcy, they tell me they are in 
  This appropriations bill will help farmers get back on their feet. 
The bill provides funding for a wide range of USDA programs, including 
agricultural research, export initiatives, foreign market development, 
nutrition programs and other department operations. Much-needed short 
term relief is also provided--$1.5 billion in one-time payments to 
assist producers who have been hit by crop losses in 1998, an 
additional $675 million to provide assistance to farmers who have 
suffered multi-year crop losses, $175 million for livestock feed 
assistance in a cost-share program available to ranchers who lost their 
1998 feed supplies to disaster, and $1.65 billion for increased AMTA 
(Agriculture Market Transition Act) payments.
  In a time when its farmers are experiencing severe economic hardship, 
Idaho is one of the big winners in the process. Many important Idaho 
research projects were included in the bill, including over $1.2 
million for potato variety development, $329,000 for peas and lentils, 
$423,000 for grass seed and $550,000 for small fruit research, among 
  The agriculture appropriations bill will also help promote American 
agriculture overseas. The Market Access Program continues to be a vital 
and important part of U.S. trade policy aimed at maintaining and 
expanding U.S. agricultural exports, countering subsidized foreign 
competition, strengthening farm income and protecting American jobs. 
MAP has been a tremendous success by any measure. Since the program was 
established, U.S. agricultural exports have doubled. In fiscal year 
1997, U.S. agricultural exports amounted to $57.3 billion, resulting in 
a positive agricultural trade surplus of approximately $22 billion and 
contributing billions of dollars more in increased economic activity 
and additional tax revenues. This appropriations bill continues funding 
for MAP.
  Also included in the bill is funding for the Agriculture Education 
Competitive Grants Program. This program funds grants for school-based 
agricultural education at the high school and junior college levels of 
instruction. Competitive grants targeted to school-based agricultural 
education will be used to enhance curricula, increase teacher 
competencies, promote the incorporation of agriscience and agribusiness 
education into other subject matter, like science and mathematics, and 
facilitate joint initiatives between secondary schools, 2-year 
postsecondary schools, and 4-year universities. This will help our 
young people be successful in an ever-increasing competitive 
agriculture market.
  Is this is a perfect bill? No, but it is one that is fiscally 
responsible and it does not return to the failed policies of the past. 
We must allow American farmers to compete and give them the tools they 
need to do so. This bill is another step in that direction.
  Mr. President, I will vote yes for the appropriations bill and urge 
my colleagues to do the same.
  Ms. MIKULSKI. Mr. President, I rise today in opposition to the 
Agriculture Appropriations Conference Report. I oppose this bill for 
three reasons. First and foremost, it does not meet the needs of my 
state of Maryland. Second, it does not sufficiently fund agriculture 
programs in order to help all American farmers. Third, the method by 
which the funding is spent is wholly inadequate to address the farm 
  In my state of Maryland, we have been plagued by drought for the 
second consecutive year. Our farmers are losing crops and they are 
losing money. They are struggling just to survive. Couple the drought 
with the record low prices, high costs and a glut in the market and 
that spells disaster for our farmers. Official data reports that 
drought has destroyed between 30 percent and 65 percent of the crops in 
nine Southern Maryland and lower Eastern Shore counties. Loss of 
soybean, tobacco, wheat and corn crops is making this a very tough 
season for Maryland farmers. Let me assure you I will not just stand by 
and let this happen to my farmers.
  I am already fighting with the rest of the Maryland delegation team 
to provide emergency loans from the Department of Agriculture to our 
farmers and to officially designate them disaster areas because of the 
drought. But this money does not really take care of the problem. This 
is not some heroic assistance program for our farmers. It is just a 
loan. This is money that must be paid back. It does not provide any 
real long term assistance for our farming community. That is precisely 
the job of Congress today.
  Our farmers need help so they can continue to farm. They need help 
now, this is true, and they need these loans. But eventually, loans 
must be paid back with money earned. And this money will not and cannot 
be earned without our help. We should be uplifting our farmers and 
helping them to help themselves. Not just continuing their burden of 
debt. We need help, and this Agriculture Appropriations bill neither 
addresses Maryland's agricultural problems nor the agricultural 
problems scourging the rest of our country.
  Farmers in my state of Maryland came to me with their priorities for 
this bill, neither of which are adequately addressed. First, this bill 
does not provide adequate funding for operating loans so farmers can 
buy the equipment and supplies necessary to plan for the next season. 
Without these loans, many of our farmers will not have the funds they 
need to plant. This then becomes a vicious cycle. Without the funds to 
plant, the farmers cannot make money for the next year, and pay

[[Page S11559]]

back or even be eligible for loan assistance.
  The second, and most important reason this bill does not satisfy the 
needs of my state is because this bill does not uncap the market loans. 
My farmers have told me that their number one priority is to take the 
artificial caps off the market loans. In fact, my farmers have told me 
they desperately needed the caps off the market loans. Last week, a new 
U.S. Department of Agriculture report forecasted a net farm income for 
1998 at $42 billion, down $7.9 billion from last year. This amounts to 
nearly a 16 percent drop in farm income. The report also said that farm 
debt is anticipated to reach $172 billion by the end of 1998.
  What do these forecasts tell us? This says that any federal response 
that stops short of recognizing the fundamental problem of depressed 
prices will absolutely not address the problem. We cannot pass a band-
aid measure and expect it to stick in the long term. This is just not 
possible. The only way to start to correct the problem is to start at 
the root. And this means acknowledging and dealing with the depressed 
crop prices. Uncapping the market loans is crucial to confronting this 
  I will not vote for this bill today because it does not provide 
enough funding to deal with these problems. The Democratic farm relief 
package offered by Senator Harkin in conference was sadly defeated 
along partisan lines. This package would have provided the necessary 
$7.3 billion in funds to cover both disaster and economic losses, 
including a provision to increase marketing loan rates. The Republican 
plan--less than $4 billion--adopted by the committee came as an extreme 
disappointment. All states suffer under the Republican plan. In my 
state alone, Maryland would receive only $7 million in assistance 
verses $21 million under the Democratic plan.
  The magnitude of losses suffered simply does not merit this meager 
and shallow attempt to pass this bill. All one need do is look at the 
facts. The level of economic assistance contained in the bill is $1.65 
billion. The net farm income projected is expected to fall this year 
alone by $8 billion to $10 billion. Clearly, this bill does not 
increase the amount of relief to a level that will help farmers weather 
the economic crisis.
  Finally, I will not support this bill because the method by which the 
funding is spent is wholly inadequate to address the farm crisis. The 
assistance is not directed to the person who suffered the loss. 
Increasing the Republican plan would simply send money to landlords who 
have already been paid their cash rent for the year. These Agricultural 
Market Transition Act (AMTA) payments benefit the absentee landowner, 
rather than the farmers who need the assistance. One recent study 
showed that 73 percent of the nation's farmers feel the current farm 
bill does not provide adequate income during low-price periods. This 
means the current system is failing us. Rather than pump more money 
into a failed system, it is time we overhaul the method.
  Let me say that I absolutely agree with Senators Daschle and Harkin 
that this bill does not sufficiently address the farm crisis. More 
needs to be done. I am sorry not to vote for this appropriations bill. 
Mr. President, let me be clear--I wanted to vote for an agriculture 
appropriations bill today. I think we all did. In fact, I want to see 
all thirteen of these appropriations bills pass, as they rightly 
should. But I will not support a bill that short-changes our farmers. I 
did not vote for the Freedom to Farm bill for this very reason, I will 
not vote for the agriculture appropriations bill today.
  Mr. LUGAR. Mr. President, I will vote for the 1999 agriculture 
appropriations conference report. Unfortunately, several unwise 
provisions have been added since this bill passed the Senate. The 
cumulative weight of these mistaken policies does not outweigh the many 
good things in the bill, but is still reason for substantial concern.
  The bill is commendable in many ways. The conferees wisely rejected 
efforts to increase price support loan rates. Instead, they expanded 
disaster assistance from $500 million in the Senate bill to $2.35 
billion. This aid will benefit farmers with 1998 losses as well as 
producers in some regions who have suffered several consecutive years 
of loss because of weather or disease.
  The bill also provides $1.65 billion in market loss payments to 
farmers. These payments provide income support without doing violence 
to the basic structure of the 1996 FAIR Act. In preserving the FAIR 
Act's ``freedom to farm,'' the market loss payments are clearly 
superior to the higher loan rates preferred by our Democratic 
colleagues. Raising loan rates, according to the non-partisan Food and 
Agricultural Policy Research Institute, would cause more production, 
higher surplus stocks and lower prices and incomes in future years. 
Even though higher loan rates might raise prices in the short term, 
they would have deleterious effects that would plague U.S. agriculture 
for years to come.
  Other parts of the bill deserve praise. The conferees adopted a 
biodiesel provision in the Senate bill which I sponsored along with 
other Senators. Encouraging the use of biodiesel will advance, in a 
small way, the neglected cause of energy self-sufficiency and 
renewability. The conference report will also facilitate an increase in 
overseas food assistance through Food for Progress.
  I also commend the conferees for adopting a regulatory standstill 
that will restore legal certainty to swap transactions. This standstill 
will allow the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to take necessary 
actions in a financial emergency, as well enforcement actions. It 
leaves regulators free to act prudently. However, the provision will 
ensure that the President's Working Group on Financial Markets has an 
opportunity to advance its current study of the appropriate regulation 
of over-the-counter derivatives, a study I asked the working group to 
begin back in July. The turbulence in financial markets during recent 
weeks should finally convince everyone of the need to expedite this 
study. The standstill also allows crucial decisions about OTC 
derivatives to be made, as they should be, in Congress.
  Restoring legal certainty to swaps will also help to calm markets: In 
a volatile period, the last thing markets need to deal with is the 
threat of valid contracts becoming unenforceable. I commend Senator 
Cochran for his sponsorship of this provision, which Congressman Bob 
Smith and I proposed.
  Unfortunately, the conference report has a number of undesirable 
provisions. Most regrettably, this conference report adopts a House 
provision to deny funding for the Initiative for Future Agriculture and 
Food Systems. It is difficult to understand why this initiative, which 
passed both Houses of Congress by overwhelming margins earlier this 
year, was neglected when many less urgent--and more parochial--research 
items were funded. The initiative's competitive grants and carefully 
chosen priorities represent the direction in which federal research 
funding should go. To deny funding for research that will help us feed 
future generations is unconscionable.
  The conference report has other flaws. It adopts new loan programs 
for honey and mohair which were not contained in either bill. Programs 
for these commodities were abolished only a few years ago. The 
conference report also adopts language from the House bill which will 
delay the reform of milk marketing orders by six months. Such a delay 
is doubly unfortunate since the Secretary of Agriculture is already 
proposing only half-measures to reform this antiquated and byzantine 
  The report's statement of managers contains statements about the 
sugar program which, though not legally binding, would negate a 
provision of the FAIR Act if they were taken seriously by the 
Department of Agriculture. The managers state, in effect, that the one-
cent-per-pound penalty assessed on forfeited sugar should not be 
considered an effective reduction in the support price of sugar, 
especially for purposes of determining the tariff rate quota for 
imports. But that was, of course, precisely the intent and effect of 
this provision. The logical result of a one-cent penalty is to reduce 
by that amount the price at which a sugar processor would be 
indifferent to forfeiture or a market sale. It is instructive to read 
comments on the floor of the House, during debate on the FAIR Act by a 
strong advocate of the sugar program, former Congressman E de la Garza. 
The former chairman of the

[[Page S11560]]

House Agriculture Committee said that the FAIR Act's sugar section 
``effectively reduces the loan rate by 1 cent and ensures an increase 
in foreign imports.''
  The conference report also reverses one recent reform of the 
catastrophic crop insurance program. Not only does the conference 
report allow multi-million dollar operations to continue buying 
catastrophic coverage for as little as $60, rather than a small 
percentage of crop value. It also extends this provision into the 
future, something that is simply not appropriate in a one-year 
appropriation bill. Finally, funding was cut for environmental 
assistance that mitigates non-point source pollution--the Environmental 
Quality Incentives Program. Like the Initiative for Future Agriculture 
and Food Systems, EQIP is funded through mandatory accounts that are 
under the jurisdiction of authorizing, not appropriating, committees.
  Even after listing disappointing actions, I have chosen to highlight 
the positive achievements in this bill and other recent bills and 
enacted statutes in which Republicans have shown their ability to 
assist farmers in troubled times.
  Under the Republican FAIR Act, loan deficiency payments and marketing 
loan gains for 1998 crops will total $4.2 billion. Most of this amount 
is not counted in the most recent Administration estimates of net farm 
income. This summer, Republicans led the way in passing a bill to 
augment farm cash flow by speeding up 1999 ``freedom to farm'' 
payments. Now, Republicans are asking the President to join in a $4 
billion cash infusion into the farm economy--$2.35 billion in disaster 
assistance and $1.65 billion in market loss payments.
  These Republican initiatives will lift 1998 net farm income to near 
the 1997 level and above the average level of the 1990s. Without a 
doubt, many producers are under severe stress. Not every operation will 
survive. Like most other commodity prices, farm prices are depressed 
because of the shock waves sweeping through the world economy. In such 
trying times, Republicans have responded with practical assistance 
rather than ideological demagoguery.
  We should send this conference report to the President, and he should 
sign it promptly.
  Ms. LANDRIEU. Mr. President, after two and a half months of debate on 
the economic and disaster crisis facing rural America and thousands of 
farm families, we are voting on a measure that provides $4.2 billion in 
economic relief to our farmers.
  During the course of this debate, we have heard from our Democratic 
Leader, who I want to commend for his leadership on this issue, our 
President, and many others who believe that much more assistance is 
needed to adequately address the serious situation facing rural 
America. I fully agree that the relief provided in this legislation is 
far less than meaningful for Louisiana and other Southern states who 
are suffering one of the worst droughts in 100 years. Already, we have 
thousands of farmers whose crops and pasture land have been burnt up by 
the heat and an estimated $450 million in crop losses in Louisiana 
alone. These same farmers are also facing some of the worst commodity 
prices in over a decade. Not only are Louisiana farmers hit with low 
prices, they also have no crop. Therefore, I have argued and strongly 
supported additional funding to address this crisis. This funding is 
justified and should be provided.
  However, Mr. President, we also have a conference report before us, a 
bill that provides a total of $55.7 billion in essential funding for 
some very important agriculture, rural development, and nutrition 
programs. Additionally, included in this measure is over $25 million 
for much needed research and education projects in Louisiana.
  Mr. President, the senior Senator from Louisiana and I have both 
advocated for additional funding for our farmers. However, the bottom 
line is that many members in the House and Senate have differing views 
about how this assistance should be delivered. Furthermore, many 
members have strong philosophical reasons for opposing even the $4.2 
billion provided in this relief package. Therefore, with only a few 
days remaining, before the Congress adjourns and the $450 million in 
associated crop damages facing Louisiana, the $4.2 billion provided in 
this legislation, is the best option on the table for providing 
immediate assistance to my state. Therefore, I am rising in support of 
this measure, which as stated by the Chairman and Senator Bumpers has 
been one of the most difficult conference reports ever considered by 
the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee.
  Mr. President, before I conclude my remarks I want to make two 
additional points. While I recognize that this is not the appropriate 
bill to reform crop insurance, I want to make a prediction that if this 
issue along with revisions to the current loan rate structure are not 
addressed early next year, we will be back on the Senate floor debating 
an even greater economic farm crisis. Then, we will not only be hearing 
from farmers, but bankers, retail store owners and state chambers of 
  I know that many of my colleagues strongly support crop insurance 
reform. However, many Senators are opposed to revisiting any of the 
loan rate provisions included in the 1996 Farm Bill. From my 
discussions with several reputable farmers in Louisiana this issue 
should be reconsidered.
  Mr. President, with the many complicated issues facing farmers, only 
through a bipartisan effort can we begin to address these matters. 
Therefore, I hope that the Democratic and Republican leaders in the 
House and Senate will take the additional steps needed early next year 
to address and resolve this pending economic agriculture crisis.
  I thank the Chairman for yielding his time and I yield the floor.
  Mr. KERREY. Mr. President, during my October 5, 1998, floor statement 
on the 1999 Agriculture Appropriations Conference Report, I referred to 
and inserted for the record a chart showing a state-by-state breakdown 
of the Democratic and Republican ag relief proposals. I wish to clarify 
that the chart was not generated by the Congressional Budget Office, 
but rather an estimate prepared by the Senate Agriculture Committee 
staff based on the aggregate CBO estimate of the cost to remove the 
caps placed on marketing loans in the 1996 Farm Bill.
  Mr. President, I appreciate this opportunity to make this 
  Mr. BRYAN. Mr. President, I rise today to briefly discuss two 
provisions included in the conference report accompanying H.R. 4101, 
the Agriculture Appropriations Bill.
  First, I want to express my gratitude to the House and Senate 
conferees for retaining a provision in the conference report that was 
originally passed here in the Senate relating to the Market Access 
  As my colleagues are aware, the Market Access Program is administered 
by the U.S. Department of Agriculture through its Foreign Agriculture 
Service. MAP funding is designed to reimburse private companies, 
industry associations and cooperatives for the promotion of brand-name 
products as well as generic commodities overseas.
  Unfortunately, Mr. President, it has become quite clear that the 
Market Access Program is a flagrant example of a federal spending 
program gone wrong--one that is simply unproductive, unjustified and 
  Over the past few years, I have stood here on the Senate floor 
several times to highlight the assorted flaws with this program, 
particularly the outrageous reality that we are channeling millions and 
millions of taxpayers dollars to some of the most prosperous 
corporations in America, including Sunkist, Welch Foods, Gallo and 
General Mills.
  My efforts to terminate the Market Access Program were endorsed by a 
sweeping coalition of fiscal watchdogs, including Taxpayers For Common 
Sense, National Taxpayers Unions, Citizens Against Government Waste, 
Friends of the Earth, Citizens for a Sound Economy and the U.S. Public 
Interest Research Group.
  Unfortunately, proponents of this policy made claims about the 
program that were difficult for the General Accounting Office to refute 
as a result of the lack of available information about the 
effectiveness and value of the program. Clearly, greater scrutiny of 
this program is appropriate and necessary.
  In July of this year, the Senate passed an amendment that I authored 
to the Agriculture Appropriations bill that I believe will have a 
profound effect on the future of the Market Access

[[Page S11561]]

Program. I am pleased this provision has been retained in the 
conference report before us today.
  This provision requires the USDA to estimate the impact of the Market 
Access Program on the agriculture sector as well as on U.S. consumers, 
while also considering the costs and benefits of alternative uses of 
the funds currently allocated to MAP.
  Additionally, the amendment requires USDA to evaluate the additional 
spending of participants and the amount of exports additionally 
resulting from the Market Access Program.
  I believe, Mr. President, that this information will allow the 
General Accounting Office to produce a useful evaluation that will 
enable Congress to make an informed, responsible decision about the 
utility of continuing this program in future years.
  Unfortunately, while this amendment will throw a spotlight on one 
wasteful federal spending program, I am concerned that another 
provision in this conference report could compromise past and future 
efforts to rein in other wasteful and unnecessary federal expenditures.
  As part of an effort to provide economic assistance to farmers and 
producers who have been hit hard by the worsening weather and market 
conditions facing rural America, this legislation includes roughly $6.5 
million in the form of recourse loans for mohair producers.
  Perhaps this funding assistance is warranted. Clearly, the entire 
agricultural community is reeling from prolonged disastrous weather 
conditions, a 20-year low in commodity prices and dwindling overseas 
  It is imperative that we provide to our producers in need, timely 
disaster and other economic assistance for crop losses and other 
related dilemmas.
  However, we must be clear in stating that the emergency assistance 
provided in this bill for mohair producers is not in any way, shape or 
form an attempt to resuscitate the mohair subsidy program that was shut 
down by the Congress just a few short years ago.
  My colleagues will recall that the mohair subsidy program originated 
in 1954, when Congress passed the National Wool Act, authorizing a 
subsidy program to guarantee the production of domestic wool for 
military uniforms during the Cold War era.
  Mohair, which was used for decorative braids on military uniforms, 
was inexplicably affixed to the wool subsidy program.
  Over the years, the need and justification for both the wool and 
mohair subsidies has plainly evaporated. Yet in 1992, years after the 
sun had set on the Cold War and the strategic need for wool and mohair 
had long expired, wool producers were still receiving roughly 130 
million dollars in subsidy payments while mohair producers were still 
receiving about 48 million dollars.
  In light of this, I joined with several of my colleagues in 1993, 
including Senators Kerry and Feingold, in terminating the wool and 
mohair subsidy that had existed for nearly forty years. We shut that 
program down.
  That was no small accomplishment, Mr. President.
  The Congress is clearly capable of, and has been somewhat successful 
in reducing the size, scope and funding for a number of federal 
spending programs.
  But to actually terminate a program and to categorically wipe that 
program clean from the federal budget, is indeed, an uncommon 
  Mr. President, I am not here to dispute the contention that mohair 
producers are deserving of emergency assistance. Certainly, virtually 
every component of our agricultural community has been adversely 
affected by the crisis that is facing our Nation's farmers and 
  But I do want to take this opportunity to express to the 
distinguished Chairman and distinguished Ranking Member of the 
Subcommittee my sincere hope that the inclusion of this funding for 
mohair producers is not an attempt to re-open the wool and mohair 
subsidy program that was shut down by Congress just a few short years 
  Terminating the wool and mohair subsidy was a small step on the road 
to a balanced budget, and I fully intend to monitor this situation next 
year. If we are to stay the course of fiscal responsibility, we must 
make sure that the American taxpayer is not forced to subsidize those 
antiquated programs the Congress has deemed to be wasteful and 
  Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, the Agriculture Appropriations bill 
continues funding for the various agricultural and land-based programs 
within USDA and directs $4 billion in additional spending to support 
emergency farm relief and crop assistance to help farmers in need 
during a critical year of disaster-related conditions.
  Back in July, I reported more than $241 million in earmarks contained 
in the Senate bill for unrequested, unauthorized or purely parochial 
projects. A review of the conference report leads me to determine that 
the conferees jointly decided to overload this report with even more 
flagrant examples of wasteful and unnecessary spending. This year's 
conference agreement is more than $381 million above the budget request 
and higher than either the Senate or House had proposed.
  Included in this spending bill is an added farm relief package that 
totals $4 billion for crop loss assistance and market loss payments to 
help farmers cope with emergency situations and falling prices. We did 
not vote on this measure as part of the original Senate or House bill, 
it was added in conference. This is a very serious issue which involves 
a substantial amount of federal spending. Certainly, this deserves 
thoughtful deliberation and careful review through our established 
process, and should not be attached at the midnight hour to a 
conference report. This is not the way we ought to conduct the business 
of prioritizing taxpayer dollars.
  Mr. President, each year, appropriations bills are a target for 
members to advance political platforms. I find that the accounts for 
the Agricultural Research Service and the Cooperative State Research, 
Education, and Extension Service are a virtual goldmine for member-
interest earmarks.
  For example, specific earmarks are directed at the cost of:

       $250,000 for ``alternative fish feed'' in Idaho; $750,000 
     for grasshopper research in Alaska; $250,000 for lettuce 
     geneticist/breeding in Salinas, California; $1,000,000 for 
     peanut quality research in Dawson, Georgia and Raleigh, North 
     Carolina; $162,000 for peach tree shortlife in South 
     Carolina; $200,000 for tomato wilt virus in Georgia, and 
     $750,000 to the Fish Farming Experiment Laboratory in 
     Stuttgart, Arkansas.

  While I am not an expert in the agricultural field, I find it 
incredulous that we can expend one million dollars on peanut quality 
research while we are experiencing a crisis in the farm economy! 
Additionally, a quarter of a million is earmarked for ``alternative 
fish feed''? While I am certain that the members from these respective 
states can make their case for directed funding for these projects, I 
question their desire to side-step a competitive and merit-based review 
  I was pleased to note in the conference report a recognition of the 
importance of merit review procedures for grant funding. However, 
despite this recognition, the report continues to include directive 
language which explicitly leads the agency to grant specific projects 
with special consideration.
  For example, the report reads:

       The House and Senate reports recommend projects for 
     consideration under various rural development programs and 
     the conferees expect the department to apply established 
     review procedures when considering applications.

  The report then directs:

       The conferees further expect the Department to give 
     consideration to business enterprise and housing preservation 
     projects in the city of Bayview, VA; aplications for rural 
     business enterprise grants from TELACU, for a project in 
     Selma, CA; for assistance for a community improvement program 
     in Arkansas; water and sewer improvements for the City of 
     Vaughn, NM; the Shulerville/Honey Hill Water project, South 
     Carolina; and a rural enterprise grant for Indian Hills 
     Community College in Iowa.

  This is a true disservice to the many potential competitors who are 
vying for funding, yet decide to work through the designated 
competitive grant process.
  Last year I noticed a practice by the appropriators of using the 
appropriations process to prevent Federal agencies from following 
government-wide efforts to down-size and cut back on unnecessary 
bureaucracy. This year's conference report formalizes this practice as 
a tradition by including language such as:

[[Page S11562]]

  Language whereby the conferees ``expect the Secretary, to the extent 
practicable, to avoid the use of reductions-in-force or furloughs for 
both Federal and non-federal employees or any county office closings''; 
  Prohibitive language which prevents the expenditure of funds made 
available by the Food and Drug Administration to close or relocate, or 
to plan to close or relocate, the Food and Drug Division of Drug 
Analysis in St. Louis, Missouri.
  Mr. President, I am not trying to undermine the hard work of the 
conferees for they do have a difficult responsibility. I commend the 
managers on both sides of the aisle in working out a careful 
compromise. Unfortunately, the Agriculture Appropriations conference 
report is representative of legislative circumvention and the troubling 
practice of pork-barrel spending.
  Mr. President, I yield the floor.
  Mr. COCHRAN addressed the Chair.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Mississippi.
  Mr. COCHRAN. Mr. President, I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mrs. MURRAY. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.