I AM VERY HAPPY indeed to approve this bill which embodies my major recommendations to the Congress in January. This new law-the central core of a vigorous, progressive agricultural program--will bring substantial, lasting benefits to our farmers, our consumers, and our entire economy.
Obviously its most publicized feature is the flexible price support system which it places into effect. At last our farmers are enabled gradually to redirect our agriculture toward better balanced production--and, at last, our farmers are assured of greater freedom instead of the rapidly increasing regimentation and Federal domination they were sure to suffer under a continuation of the present system of rigid price supports. Those who share my deep feeling about the great importance to our country of preserving the proud independence and initiative of our farming people will share my pleasure in this new law, and will also share my hope that in time nearly all production adjustments can be accomplished through flexible supports instead of direct government controls.
There will be many other important gains from the flexible price support system.
It will help achieve a better balanced agriculture by moving more farm products into consumption.
Over the years, for the farmer, it will mean a healthier, more prosperous farm economy, a more stable income, and a steadier buying power.
Over the years, for the consumer, it will mean adequate, steady supplies of agricultural products at reasonable prices.
Over the years, for all of our people, because of the central economic importance of agriculture, it will mean a stronger national economy.
An especially important provision in this new law authorizes the government to set aside up to $2,500,000,000 worth of its surplus commodities in a reserve insulated from normal trade channels. By this action we can minimize the threat of huge surpluses to current markets and the entire farm support program. Surplus commodities so set aside will be used for many worthwhile purposes--school lunch programs, disaster relief, aid to the people of other countries, and stockpiles at home for use in war or national emergency.
The wide-ranging scope and great public importance of this new law is illustrated by brief reference to some of its other provisions. The new law:
--increases authority for moving dairy products into consumer channels;
--encourages increased domestic wool production;
--continues for two years government assistance to farmers who take steps to conserve their soil;
--authorizes larger normal supplies of wheat and corn to guarantee our nation an adequate amount of these staple grains at all times;
--shifts agricultural attaches in foreign embassies from the Department of State to the Department of Agriculture in order to sharpen the effort to find new world markets for our agricultural products;
--provides that the modernized parity formula will be applied gradually to wheat, cotton, corn and peanuts.
Important though this new farm law is, it is still only a part of a broad program for agriculture. For example--
1. The new tax law signed on August 16 not only accords the farmer benefits accruing to taxpayers generally; it also allows him to depreciate the cost of his heavy equipment on more liberal terms and specifically permits him to deduct soil and water conservation costs up to 25 percent of the gross income he receives from farming. This will benefit some 500,000 farmers. It will save them some $10,000,000.
2. Increased funds have been appropriated for agricultural research. This will advance the development of more efficient and more profitable farming methods.
3. The recently authorized St. Lawrence Seaway will in time result in lower water transportation rates for farm products moving from the Midwest to the Eastern United States and to world markets across the seas.
4. Foreign outlets for American farm products will be expanded by the new Agricultural Trade Development and Assistance Act.
5. A $15,000,000 emergency credit program, administered by the Farmers Home Administration, will make disaster loans available to farmers in amounts up to $15,000.
6. For the first time, an amendment to the Social Security Act will extend the old age and survivors benefits of that law to an estimated 3,600,000 farm operators. For the first time also, these benefits will be extended to a group of about 2,100,000 farm workers who have not previously had these benefits.
7. For the first time, the Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Act, approved on August 17, recognizes by law the great importance of upstream watershed protection in our overall water resource policy. For the first time also, this Act provides Federal technical and financial assistance to local watershed groups willing to assume responsibility for initiating, carrying out, and sharing the costs of watershed protection which will help conserve water for agricultural uses and supplement downstream flood control measures.
8. Amendment to the Water Facilities Act makes available throughout the nation loans for developing agricultural water improvements on farms and ranches. This law also establishes a program of direct insured loans for drainage facilities, reforestation, and other water and soil conservation measures.
These and many other measures are all parts of an integrated program to foster prosperity and steadily growing opportunity in American agriculture and our national economy. The new farm law is a long step forward in that program.