News Releases

Bush Threatens To Kill Emergency Apple Assistance

Aug 02 2001

Murray, Cantwell Call on President Bush to Come to Aid of Apple, Wheat Growers

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) called on President Bush to drop his veto threats against legislation providing emergency assistance to U.S. apple growers. In an attempt to preserve this crucial aid, Murray today initiated a bipartisan letter to the President urging him to support the emergency apple legislation.

The Senate agriculture bill would provide a $7.4 billion infusion to agricultural producers hurt by low prices and closed markets. The aid package includes $150 million in assistance to apple producers, approximately $50.3 million of which would go directly to Washington State growers. The pending legislation also provides emergency payments to wheat producers at the same level as in previous years.

"President Bush received significant support in apple country," said Murray. "It's hard to understand why he would want to abandon our growers now. The Administration is counting on these same growers to move his trade agenda. I'm concerned that threats to kill this bipartisan apple relief package will endanger our ability to make advances in other critical areas."

Bush Administration officials have threatened to veto the legislation, saying they do not want the bill to exceed $5.5 billion. The House passed a $5.5 billion assistance package. The House bill does not include the $150 million assistance package for apple growers. The House legislation also includes an emergency payment for wheat producers that is only 84 percent of what they received last year.

"The President's veto threat puts at risk critical support for Washington state apple growers and wheat farmers," said Cantwell. "This past weekend I met with farmers and heard about the difficulties they face with trade and natural disasters. Many farmers need assistance now or they will go out of business. It is essential for Congress to pass - and the President to sign- the emergency agriculture legislation; Wash state farmers are depending on it."

The Senate is expected to complete action on the agriculture supplemental legislation in the next two days.

Copies of Senator Murray's letter to President Bush follows.

August 2, 2001

The Honorable George W. Bush
President
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, D.C. 20500-0003


Dear President Bush:

As Senators representing apple producing states, we are writing to urge you to drop your administration's veto threats against S. 1246, the Agriculture Supplemental Authorization bill.

S. 1246 includes $150 million in market loss assistance payments for U.S. apple growers. Our apple growers have been hit hard by the dumping of apple juice concentrate by China, low prices, lost markets, and trade barriers. The bill also includes substantially more assistance for American farmers than the House agriculture supplemental bill. It delivers this assistance in a manner that is consistent with the fiscal year 2002 budget resolution.

Your administration is committed to opening new markets for American agricultural products. We share your commitment to this goal. But support for our international trade agreements is waning among our farmers and ranchers. If assistance is not provided to producers who have been negatively affected by trade issues, we can expect their support to continue to decline.

Our apple growers are independent people. They do not want to ask Congress and your administration for assistance. But they have come to us because aid is critical to their survival. In response, bipartisan legislation was introduced in the House and Senate to provide emergency payments to apple producers. Now, our growers need your support for this effort.

We urge you to support our nation's farmers, including its apple growers, by removing your veto threat against S. 1246 and working with the House and Senate to pass and implement this important legislation.

Sincerely,

Senator Patty Murray
Senator Olympia Snowe
Senator Carl Levin
Senator Debbie Stabenow
Senator Maria Cantwell
Senator John Kerry
Senator James Jeffords
Senator Patrick Leahy
Senator Edward Kennedy