WASHINGTON - National Farmers Union (NFU) today rolled out an updated agriculture relif plan of roughly $16 billion and announced a series of statements to be held around the country in August to call attention to the farm crisis.
NFU President Leland Swenson announced the five-pronged strategy "Farm Crisis Relief Plan," that calls for $11.7 billion for producer economic equity, $1.25 billion for inventory management, $1 billion for agricultural regulatory transition, $700 million for conservation and credit and $2 billion for trade and humanitarian assistance.
"It is imperative that a financial assistance package of this magnitude be adopted," said Texas farmers Union (TFU) President Wes Sims. The revised plan reflects how bad the situation is in rural America and rural communities in Texas.
"The plan is a common sense approach to provide equitable assistance to producers regardless of commodity or region, and to relieve market-deppressing stock levels," Sims continued. "Congress must address this issue directly and act in an expedient manner. A critical key to the economy and defense of our country is at stake. To delay action will be irresponsible. How much worse must it get before Congress acts?"
The plan includes programs to provide direct assistance to producers to compensate for low prices and seeks to expand discretionary authority for the secretary of agriculture to respond to disasters in agriculture. For inventory management, the plan calls for a three-year emergency conservation reserve, loans for building on-farm storage, a farmer-owned reserve and a renewable energy reserve program.
Other provisions call for property tax relief, mandatory price reporting, country-of-origin labeling, full funding for U.S. Department of Agriculture credit programs and an international agreement to establish a conservation diversion program, as well as other trade objectives.
Net farm income for 1999 is expected to drop 16.5% from 1996 levels and is forecast to stay lower through 2004. Projections for 1999 compared to 1996 show a price decline of 42% for wheat, 39% for corn, 30% for cotton and 26% for soybeans. In addition, 1999 exports are expected to fall to $49 billion, the lowest level in four years and 8.6% lower than 1998.
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