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Emergency Agricultural Assistance Bill Statement on Signing H.R. 6782 Into Law.

May 15, 1978

I am today signing H.R. 6782, the Emergency Agricultural Act of 1978, because it will help the administration meet our goal of food and agriculture policies which are fair and equitable for farmers and which maintain our ability to compete effectively in world markets.

This is a 4-year measure that will give us added flexibility in farm programs and encourage more farmers to use the programs to achieve maximum benefit.

On March 29, we took several steps designed to help producers of wheat, feed grains, and cotton. These actions were targeted to provide economic incentive for producers to participate in the 1978 farm programs. Even though a wheat grazing and haying program was announced that day, it did not have an economic impact equal to the actions taken for cotton and feed grain producers.

The discretionary authority that the Congress has provided in this legislation allows the Secretary of Agriculture to raise income support levels in any year in which a set-aside program is in effect. Today, I am asking the Secretary to exercise this authority by increasing the income support level for 1978 crop wheat to $3.40 per bushel, up from the $3.00 provided in the Food and Agriculture Act of 1977.

As a result of this, wheat producers will be eligible for approximately $600 million in additional deficiency payments late this year, unless the market price is in excess of $3.00 a bushel during June-October.

An undesirable feature of this bill is the 48-cent-per-pound minimum upland cotton support price for the 1978-81 crops. This may create problems in future years, but we expect that market prices will remain above the 48-cent loan for the 1978 crop. I intend to propose legislation to remove this minimum price provision, but I will not propose to change the modifications in the formula used to determine the cotton loan rate.

It is also important to note that the bill raises the Commodity Credit Corporation's borrowing authority from $14.5 billion to $25 billion. The added $10.5 billion will not increase government expenditures, but will provide funds necessary for the successful operation of currently announced domestic and foreign food and agriculture programs.

I congratulate the Congress, and especially Chairmen Foley and Talmadge, for enacting this legislation so promptly after defeat by the House of Representatives of the unwise and untimely "flexible parity" bill. That bill would have added significantly to food prices and to budget expenditures, and would have undermined our attempts to form a farmer-held grain reserve to protect against future crop shortfalls.

The steady improvement in farm prices under the programs of the Food and Agriculture Act of 1977 demonstrates that it, and related statutes, are providing more effective insurance against economic risk.

Now our farmers need better insurance against the risk of natural disaster. Recently Secretary Bergland sent to the Congress our proposed farm production protection act, which will provide a nationwide, all-risk insurance program tailored to the needs of individual producers. It is my sincere hope that the Congress can move rapidly to reform the present crop insurance and disaster assistance programs.

I also strongly urge the Congress to act on legislation that the administration has forwarded to establish an international emergency wheat reserve. This bill authorizes government purchase of wheat from the marketplace to accumulate a total reserve of up to 220 million bushels. This reserve will strengthen our commitment for food aid to the less developed countries of the world. It will ensure that U.S. food aid shipments will not be curtailed when there have been substantial shortfalls in world grain production and food aid needs are most critical.

Note: As enacted, H.R. 6782 is Public Law 95-279, approved May 15.

Jimmy Carter, Emergency Agricultural Assistance Bill Statement on Signing H.R. 6782 Into Law. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/244695

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