Jimmy Carter photo

Agricultural Credit Act of 1978 Remarks at the Bill Signing Ceremony.

August 04, 1978

THE PRESIDENT. During the last 18 months, the Democratic Congress and this administration has recognized the profound need of American farmers to have a chance to meet two basic requirements. As a farmer myself for most of my life, and recognizing the attitude of American agricultural leaders and family farmers, I know that farmers don't want a handout. What they want is two basic things: first of all, to have fair prices and predictable market opportunities—and the agricultural act, the farm bill of 1977, gave them an unprecedented opportunity to have that need met.

We've seen a dramatic improvement in the economic well-being of farm families since the 1977 act went into effect last October. This year farm income will increase 25 percent, net farm income, about $5 1/2 or $6 billion.

Last year we set a record on total farm exports in spite of very low prices for products. This year we hope to exceed even that record level of farm exports. So, we've taken care, I believe, in the best possible way, with good bipartisan cooperation between the Congress and the administration, of that one need of farmers.

The other need that farmers have is to be provided with the resources to keep their operations going, to expand them if necessary, to change the circumstances under which they operate with rapidly changing conditions in American and worldwide agricultural community. This bill, the Agricultural Credit Assistance Act of 1978, meets that other need.

In 40 years this is the most far-reaching and effective farm and rural credit legislation that the Congress has passed. After very careful analysis by us in the administration and the Congress, basic decisions were made, both to save the American taxpayers money and also to meet the needs of farmers who have requirements that have not previously been met.

There is in H.R. 11504, this legislation, an opportunity for new emergency loan programs. We are updating the level of loans that can be granted to farmers who have, in large farm operations and higher credit costs, and who have suffered from inflation and not had their suffering alleviated.

Higher loan levels are permitted for those families that are just getting started in agriculture, and for those that have very low income levels, we provide special loans at reduced interest rates.

For those that are able, established, strong economically, but still need loans, this legislation permits the interest rates to increase so there will be minimal subsidization of interest rates and that we might lend the money to farmers under existing programs more nearly at a level of the cost of money to the Government itself.

There's an expanded program for water and waste disposal which will permit better attention by farm families to the problem of environmental quality.

This is very good legislation. It's fiscally responsible. It meets the other basic need of farmers and, in partnership with the 1977 farm legislation, is a major step additionally to stability and prosperity among those who produce food and fiber and the consumers who have to pay for it.

I believe predictability and stability in farm pricing and farm production is crucial to the consumers of this Nation. And this legislation will help both the farmers and those who consume their products. I want to congratulate the House and Senate leadership for their far-reaching statesmanship in passing this legislation, their responsibility to the taxpayers, and I want to also congratulate Bob Bergland and others who made it possible for this cooperative effort to pay such rich dividends for our country.

[At this point, the President signed the bill.]

Thank you very much.

REPRESENTATIVE THOMAS S. FOLEY. Mr. President, Mr. Vice President, ladies and gentlemen:

As you've said very well, farmers are principally in need of strong income that comes from fair prices and expanding markets. But the credit availability and opportunity that this bill will provide under your leadership, leadership of your administration, is one that will offer many, many farmers, young farmers as well as established farmers, a chance to continue to seek those fair prices and expanded markets.

I want to say a word, with your permission, Mr. President, for the work that was done by the Subcommittee on Conservation and Credit in the House under the leadership of Congressman Ed Jones, who did an outstanding job, and the cooperation of the Department of Agriculture and the Secretary and all your administration, and our colleagues in the Senate, that made this legislation possible.

Thank you, sir.

THE PRESIDENT. Thank you very much, everybody. I'm very proud of this legislation.

Note: The President spoke at 9: 51 a.m. in the Rose Garden at the White House.

As enacted, H.R. 11504 is Public Law 95-334, approved August 4.

Jimmy Carter, Agricultural Credit Act of 1978 Remarks at the Bill Signing Ceremony. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/248236

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