For Immediate Release: Contact:  Jim Campi
September 25, 1998

           (202) 467-5300


Washington, D.C. – In a letter today to congressional appropriators, the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW) urged conferees on the fiscal 1999 agriculture appropriations bill (H.R. 4101) to abandon an attempt to add a $4 billion emergency farm relief package to the bill.

“This bipartisan and cynical attempt to buy the farm vote before this fall’s election has escalated out of control,” writes CCAGW President Thomas A. Schatz.  “Calls for emergency agricultural relief seem to grow with every press release emanating from either the Congress or the Clinton Administration.”

Appropriators from both parties are eager to add a relief package to an already outrageous $56 billion agriculture spending measure.  The Republican plan includes $2.25 billion for crop losses and emergency livestock feed assistance, and $1.65 billion in market transition payments ¾ on top of the $10 billion already spent over the past two years.  The Democrat proposal is similar, but also calls for lifting the cap on commodity loan rates.  According to Schatz, “Each of these plans is providing compensation far in excess of any actual loss, which is realistically at the most $1.5 billion.”

There are also rumors circulating on Capitol Hill that conferees are planning to effectively increase the subsidies for sugar and peanuts.  “We understand that there may also be an attempt to add a little ‘sweetener’ for the sugar program to this ‘emergency’ legislation,” Schatz states.  “One wonders how many other ornaments are poised to be added to this Christmas tree?”

Schatz concluded the letter by urging conferees not to “lard up” the relief measure, and to offset any new spending with “cuts elsewhere in the agriculture appropriations bill.”

CCAGW is a nonpartisan, nonprofit lobbying organization dedicated to enacting legislation to eliminate waste, mismanagement and abuse in the federal government.


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