News Releases

Presidential Veto Threat Kills Apple Aid

Aug 03 2001

President costs Washington farmers $72 million in emergency aid

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – With a presidential veto threat looming over a bill to provide assistance to Washington farmers, the Senate today was forced to adopt a scaled-back emergency farm bill. The bill that was adopted provides significantly less support for America's farmers than Sen. Murray (D-Wash.) and Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and many others had fought for. Senators Murray and Cantwell had worked to include $150 million for apple producers in a $7.3 billion emergency bill, but the President threatened to veto the bill in favor of a less-helpful $5.5 billion package.

In response, Senator Murray and Senator Cantwell issued the following statement:

"Today, the Bush administration did a great disservice to our nation's farmers, to rural America, and to conservation efforts around our nation. The administration's veto threats have forced passage of a supplemental agriculture bill that is inadequate to meet the needs of our farmers and rural America. The bill abandons our apple producers. And it rejects fair payments for wheat producers.

We worked with Senator Harkin, the Chairman of the Agriculture Committee, to write a balanced package that would have provided relief to our hard-pressed farmers. Because of President Bush's refusal to compromise, the bill that the Senate adopted is without $150 million in emergency payments for apple producers or $20 million in assistance for dry pea and lentil producers.

The Harkin bill was balanced, fair, and fiscally responsible. It deserved to become law.

Yet, throughout this debate, the Bush administration steadfastly threatened to veto any bill larger than $5.5 billion. Today, President Bush won. Unfortunately, our farmers lost.

The President's veto threats have cost Washington state producers $72 million. That includes the $50.3 million in assistance our apple growers would have received under the apple aid package.

This fight is not over. We will work to ensure that this administration learns how critical the situation in rural America is. We will fight to pass the $150 million apple assistance package.

In a good first step, Senator Daschle has committed himself to bringing up the unfinished business we started this week when we return in September. We look forward to that debate, and hope President Bush will decide to work with us to help America's farmers and rural communities."