Senate Commended for Action to Help U.S. Farmers

NCC Chairman James Echols commended the Senate's passage of a $5.5 billion 2001 Emergency Agricultural Assistance package.

August 3, 2001
Contact: Marjory Walker
(901) 274-9030

MEMPHIS – National Cotton Council Chairman James Echols today commended the Senate's passage of a $5.5 billion 2001 Emergency Agricultural Assistance package.

Echols said, "The Senate's action ensures that farmers will promptly receive this much-needed infusion of funding. The Senate took responsible action today and kept its pledge to help U.S. farmers through this financial crisis."

Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and other Senate Agriculture Committee Democrats had pushed for passage of the Senate version of 2001 assistance, which contained $7.4 billion in additional spending for this year's crops. Additional funding for the Senate bill (above $5.5 billion) was to be drawn from 2002 fiscal year funds. However, the larger package could not gain acceptance in the Senate before the House broke for August recess, limiting Senator Harkin's options. If the Senate had made any changes to the House package, the entire proposal would have had to go to conference. Because the House already had recessed for the August break, conference would not have begun until September, leaving little time for Congress to complete work before the Oct. 1 budget deadline.

Echols noted that NCC would have preferred additional funding for 2001 assistance and appreciated Senator Harkin’s efforts to increase the package, but that an earlier enacted budget resolution and timing issues dictated that the Senate pass the House version of the legislation without amendment.

"We had hoped the Senate would be able to pass its version of the legislation in a timely manner, but ultimately, the only practical option for getting this much-needed aid to farmers was for the Senate to pass the House bill without amendment," Echols said. "The cotton industry appreciates the efforts of Senators Harkin, Lott, Lugar, Cochran, Lincoln, Hutchinson and Miller in working to complete action on this measure before the August recess. They had differences of opinion in the size of assistance needed for 2001, but they worked together to ensure farmers would be helped this year."

Senate action sends the House bill to the President for signature. The House bill includes the following provisions for the 2001 crop: $4.6 billion in Market Loss Assistance for producers of Agriculture Market Transition Act (AMTA) crops (about 6.7 cents per lb. for cotton); $85 million additional cottonseed assistance for the 2000 crop; $424 million for the 2000 crop of oilseeds; $54 million for the 2000 crop of peanuts; $129 million for tobacco; $17 million for wool and mohair; and $169 million for specialty crops.

The National Cotton Council of America’s (NCC) mission is to ensure the ability of all U.S. cotton industry segments to compete effectively and profitably in the raw cotton, oilseed and manufactured product markets at home and abroad.