USDA News Release


Release No. 0374.99


Andrew Kauders (202) 720-4623
Steve Thompson (202) 720-7961


WASHINGTON, September 22, 1999--Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman today expressed concern for the continued survival of small farmers and ranchers, calling for more attention to the "human side of food production" at the second meeting of the National Drought Policy Commission, held in Washington, D.C.

"I am deeply concerned about the ability of smaller, less well-capitalized producers to stay in business during times when we’re facing both depressed farm prices and a disastrous drought," said Glickman, who chairs the Commission. "We will continue our work with Congress to address the needs of farmers who face serious financial damage or ruin through no fault of their own. We must give farmers and ranchers the tools they need to cope with the increasing volatility in world agricultural markets."

The Commission is working to develop an effective long-term national drought policy. It is tasked to make recommendations to the President and Congress on how to better integrate federal drought laws and programs with state, local, and tribal programs without infringing on state control of water resources. Recommendations will include means of improving public awareness of the need for drought mitigation, prevention, and response.

The Commission will work with the White House Drought Task Force, established by the President to coordinate the federal response to the current drought affecting all or parts of 33 states. Today’s meeting was held in the Williamsburg Room of the Agriculture Department’s Whitten Building. A public hearing preceded the meeting and commissioners heard testimony from producers, state and federal officials and non-profit organizations.

The Commission plans to distribute its draft policy for public comment in the next few months at several public hearings around the country for this purpose. Public comment will be requested through the Federal Register and local news coverage. It will report its findings to the White House and the Congress early next year.


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