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May 14, 2002   Email to Friend 

Debra Davis
(334) 613-4686
May 14, 2002

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Just one day after President Bush signed the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 into law, the U.S. Department of Agriculture launched a new website aimed at helping farmers, ranchers and the general public learn the latest information about the new farm bill.

"The new farm bill is very broad and contains many new programs to assist America's farmers and ranchers," said Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman. "This website will serve as a repository of information on the new farm bill as we begin vigorously implementing its provisions."

The website can be directly accessed from USDA's official website at http://www.usda.gov/farmbill or by simply clicking on the 2002 Farm Bill icon on USDA's main website at http://www.usda.gov/. The 2002 Farm Bill icon will also appear on USDA agency websites.

The new website will include farm bill program details, questions and answers, program applications and sign-up forms, as well as other important materials from USDA agencies on farm bill implementation. The website will also contain advanced electronic applications to help program applicants receive program benefits faster and more efficiently.

The website will help farmers, ranchers and others locate information through one site rather than searching through web pages of the many agencies that make up USDA. Information will be indexed by farm bill title and by agency. Users will be able to access specific agency information through the site and easily return to the home page by clicking on the Farm Bill 2002 logo located throughout USDA agencies' web pages. Information to be posted on the site over the next several weeks includes:

• A comparison of 1996 Farm Bill provisions and 2002 provisions prepared by the Economic Research Service;

• Fact sheets in English and Spanish that cover the changes in conservation programs administered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service;

• Information from the Farm Service Agency on program details and instructions on how to calculate new yields;

• On-line applications and electronic forms to help make processing time more efficient. The website will be updated regularly as new information and program announcements become available. The "What's New" link will alert users to updates and added information.

President Bush signed the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 into law on May 13, 2002, immediately following the Congress sending it to him for signature. At the signing ceremony, the President said, "The farm bill will strengthen the farm economy, and that's important. It will promote farmer independence, and preserve the farm way of life for generations. It helps America's farmers, and therefore it helps America."

The new farm bill provides rebalanced loan rates, lives within the Congressional budget resolution agreed to last year and is consistent with international trade obligations. The farm bill also contains record-level support for environmental stewardship, a renewed commitment to renewable fuels programs, additional investments to help expand international markets, rural community programs and food stamp assistance for low-income Americans. Secretary Veneman added, "This legislation will now provide certainty and support for America's farmers and ranchers in the coming years."

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