LUGAR SAYS USE AMTA FOR PAYMENTS
Sen. Dick Lugar (R-IN), now the ranking Republican member on the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee, says the Agricultural Market Transition Act (AMTA) framework should be used to distribute the bulk of the budgeted $5.5 billion in additional farm aid this year. Under this formula, farmers currently receiving AMTA payments would receive an additional payment.
The federal budget passed this spring adds $5.5 billion in farm payments. According to the budget resolution, the payments must be made by the end of the fiscal year, Sept. 30. Farmers already are receiving $4 billion in 2001 federal AMTA payments.
"Time is short," Lugar said. "The budget resolution requires funding be disbursed before Oct. 1 of this year. The AMTA mechanism is a proven, efficient and timely way of getting money into the pockets of producers so that many obligations can be met. It also targets the farmers who are currently experiencing the greatest problems from low prices."
Last year, the Senate passed the additional farm aid, using the AMTA formula, on May 25, and President Clinton signed the bill into law on June 20. Payments were made to farmers in September. In many cases, farmers repaid farm loans, made mortgage payments, paid suppliers and thus stayed in business for another year.
The House Agriculture Committee scheduled session for Thursday to mark-up legislation authorizing $5.5 billion in emergency financial assistance. The budget resolution specified that $5.5 billion would be available for fiscal year 2001 and another $8.35 billion for 2002.