Tags: Bush | Praises | Farming | Helping | National | Security

Bush Praises Farming as Helping National Security

Friday, 08 February 2002 12:00 AM

"Our farm economy, our ranchers and farmers provide an incredible part of the nation's economic vitality," Bush said in Denver at the 2002 Cattle Industry Convention and Trade Show, the largest beef cattle industry trade show in the country.

His comments to the cattle farmers came as Congress was debating the reauthorization of the farm bill. The House of Representatives passed a version of the bill, and it is being considered in the Senate.

"When we work on the farm bill in Washington, we must understand that we've got to have a good bill that not only enhances our nation's security by making sure we've got ample food, but by having good farm policy, good agriculture policy, we can help create jobs all across America," Bush said.

The White House has estimated that the farm bill would cost $73.5 billion over the next decade.

Bush detailed his framework for bolstering American agriculture, which includes creating individual farm savings accounts to help farmers prepare for economic downturns. Under the Republican version of the plan, the federal government would match a farmer's deposits to the account up to a maximum of $10,000 a year. Farmers could use the money when production falls below a certain level.

Bush said the program would provide farmers the incentive to manage their own business cycles.

"I understand how risky agriculture can be," Bush told the audience of cattle ranchers.

He said his plan would help farmers to insure against risk.

"By giving farmers and ranchers the opportunities to establish what we call farm savings accounts or ranch savings accounts, that give you a chance to insure against risk," he said.

Bush vowed to create more opportunities around the world.

"There's huge amounts of opportunity for American farmers and ranchers in that vast market," he said. "There's been some discussions about world trade, and look at the record."

Bush said the United States wanted to open its markets and ensure that other countries open their markets too.

"The United States stood strong when it came to protecting the agriculture interests," he said. "We want to open up markets, and at the same time we want to make sure others open up their markets for us and to make sure that we open up markets in places like Europe for America's healthy beef."

Bush's farm policy also called for enhancing conservation through improving air and water quality and providing wildlife habitats. The Bush administration supports enhancing voluntary environmental programs such as the Conservation Reserve Program, which would encompass fragile and environmentally-sensitive farmland.

"We think that the collective wisdom of those who own their land is a benefit to the nation, that when individuals make proper choices because they own their own property, that all those decisions in a collective way makes better environmental policy, better land-use policy than if it was dictated from a central source of people, many of whom have probably never been on the land," Bush said.

Bush said he strongly favored expanding the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, which provides assistance to farmers and ranchers in complying with federal, state and tribal environment laws, and which he said encourages environmental enhancement.

"I think it makes a lot of sense," he said. "Good conservation policy in a farm bill will enable ranchers and farmers to make better decisions."

Bush later left Colorado for Salt Lake City, where he was to meet with Gov. Mike Leavitt. Later Friday, Bush was scheduled to officially open the Winter Olympic Games. He was then expected to fly to Jackson Hole, Wyo., for a short break.

Copyright 2002 by United Press International.

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Our farm economy, our ranchers and farmers provide an incredible part of the nation's economic vitality, Bush said in Denver at the 2002 Cattle Industry Convention and Trade Show, the largest beef cattle industry trade show in the country. His comments to the cattle...
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2002-00-08
Friday, 08 February 2002 12:00 AM
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