Government Aid to AgricultureBy George Grow
This is the VOA Special English AGRICULTURE REPORT.
The American government spends a huge amount of money on agriculture. The Agriculture Department provided twenty-eight thousand-million dollars in direct payments to American farmers this year. Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman says the aid was responsible for about half of all money earned by American farmers during the year.
Mr. Glickman says he is pleased with government efforts to help agriculture. During the past three years, his office provided twenty-five-thousand-million dollars in emergency assistance to help farmers survive.
Recently, President Clinton signed into law a new farm spending bill. The measure calls for almost eighty-thousand-million dollars in spending through the end of next September.
The measure includes more than three-thousand-million dollars in emergency aid for farmers and ranchers. It includes money for disaster relief and crop loss payments. The money will help farmers and ranchers who have had losses because of severe dry weather, floods, fires and low crop prices. It includes aid for farmers who raise cows for milk. And it includes money to help farmers in Florida whose crops were damaged by citrus canker.
Mr. Glickman says the money will help prevent some small and medium-sized family farms from failing.
The spending plan also includes money for other programs. For example, it provides all the money President Clinton requested to support his Food Safety Initiative. The Agriculture Department says the program has improved food safety inspections and helped limit the spread of some diseases.
The new law also provides money for programs not connected to agriculture. It includes money that the Clinton Administration requested to help thousands of poor people. The measure also includes twenty-four-million dollars in development aid for Native American communities. And, it permits expanded importation of low-cost medicines.
The law also will permit sales of American food and medicine to Cuba for the first time in about forty years. However, the law bars the federal government or American banks from financing the shipments to Cuba.
This VOA Special English AGRICULTURE REPORT was written by George Grow.