Agricultural Credit Act of 1978 Statement on Signing H.R. 11504 Into Law.
The Agricultural Credit Act of 1978, which I am signing today, gives our Nation a second important tool to improve the incomes of farmers and rural Americans. This act supplements and complements the authorities contained in the Food and Agricultural Act of 1977. That act, signed last fall, has already led to a significant improvement in the farm economy. The prices of most farm commodities have risen appreciably from their earlier depressed levels. Farm exports are higher than ever before. Farm income is expected to rise by at least $5 billion, or 25 percent, this year.
The act I am signing today will give many farmers an opportunity to refinance the debts they incurred during the past period of low prices; for some this will mean the difference between staying in farming and being driven out.
The Agricultural Credit Act of 1978 represents the most comprehensive and far-reaching farm and rural credit bill since the enactment of the Bankhead-Jones Act some 40 years ago. The revolutionary changes that have transformed agriculture during those four decades demand a new credit structure for farmers and rural people. Today's farmer must make large investments in land and machinery and operating credit. In addition, farming is a high-risk operation—a constant gamble against weather and natural disaster.
This act fulfills the modern farmer's need.
The Agricultural Credit Act of 1978 will:
—bring major credit programs of the Farmers Home Administration-farm ownership, farm operating and emergency loans—into line with the basic credit needs of modern agriculture. It does this by raising the total availability of needed credit; by increasing the loan ceilings; and by setting interest rates that reflect the cost of money;
—provide $4 billion in economic emergency loan authority to assist 60,000 or more farmers hard-pressed today because of past low prices and overburdening debt accumulated during recent periods of rising production costs. Recognizing that credit is no substitute for income, the new act does allow eligible farmers to consolidate and refinance their debts while provisions of the 1977 farm act continue to help raise prices and incomes;
—create a special low-interest FMHA farm mortgage loan program for beginning and low-income farm families;
—extend a special cattle industry credit program for 1 year through September 30, 1979;
—authorize additional expenditures for small communities for water and sewer development;
—provide, for the first time, an effective, guaranteed farm lending program which will rely on private sector financing;
—recognize that family farm corporations, farm cooperatives, and limited family partnerships are essential to the farm economy and makes them eligible for FmHA credit programs for the first time.
I am particularly proud of the spirit of cooperation between the Congress and the administration in the evolution of this bill, which made a major contribution to the success of this legislation.
I hope that this momentum can be continued and that the Congress will soon act on three other important agricultural proposals:
—ratification of the International Sugar Agreement;
—the International Emergency Wheat Reserve; and
—reform of the crop insurance/disaster payments program. With enactment of these measures, we will have completed work on the most comprehensive, most forward-looking set of farm programs since the New Deal. We are very close to the realization of this goal. For its part, the administration will redouble its efforts to reach accord on these unresolved issues. I call on Members of the Congress to join in this effort.
Note: As enacted, H.R. 11504 is Public Law 95-334, approved August 4.
Jimmy Carter, Agricultural Credit Act of 1978 Statement on Signing H.R. 11504 Into Law. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/248246