WASHINGTON (Special) - The House Agriculture Committee unanimously approved sending a letter to the Budget Committee to express support for adding funding to the agriculture budget for the next 5 to10 years beginning in FY02. The letter also advises the Budget Committee that additional financial assistance will be needed for the current fiscal year.
The letter explains that funds provided in the past three years were necessary and effective, but that farmers need predictable agriculture policy. "To make such long-term structural changes to our agricultural policy, we are clear that money needs to be added to the agricultural (budget) baseline, " the letter stated.
In an explanation of why emergency assistance has been provided in the last three years, Agriculture Committee Chairman Larry Combest (R-TX) said if Congress had failed to do so "farm income would have dropped to devastating lows and all the economic infrastructure of rural America would be suffering."
In citing the need for emergency assistance in the current year, Chairman Combest noted a 40 percent increase in fuel costs, high fertilizer costs, the impact of a strong U.S. dollar, continued low commodity prices and European Union subsidies.
Ranking member Charles Stenholm (D-TX) joined in the letter outlining the need for additional financial assistance and cited the importance of an increased allocation for agriculture to facilitate the development of improved farm policy.
(The full text of the House Committee on Agriculture's views and estimates letter to the Budget Committee is available on the Ag Committee's public web site, agriculture.house.gov, found at this direct link: http://agriculture.house.gov/02budgltr.htm.)