Remarks to Agriculture
Officials and Farmers on the Drought Situation in
The President. Thank you all. Governor Thompson, Secretary Lyng, Mr. Krone, and all of you ladies and gentlemen. I think I should tell you that, you know, the Commander in Chief can dictate the uniform of the day, and I see somebody didn't tell Senator Dixon about it. [Laughter]
Senator Dixon. I've got it off now. [Laughter]
The President. Well, you have it off? Well, then there are still a couple out there in the audience, but if they're cold, why, I wouldn't want to order them to -- [laughter].
the Governor was telling you about Christmas trees, that
might be an expression -- a little unusual for some of you. What he was talking
about was a question I was just asked when we were with the press down here
before we came up here, and that was about -- right now in the Congress a
number of amendments are being proposed on the agricultural bill. I have to
tell you that agriculture -- I have to tell you that there is bipartisanship as
I haven't seen it too often in
And this is what we mean by a Christmas tree. And it's what I meant earlier when I responded to the press question with the idea that I hoped they wouldn't pass. And I shouldn't make it that blanket because there are very possibly some worthwhile amendments. But we have more bipartisanship, as I said, than we've had in a long time there with regard to your problem.
I've just inspected the corn and soybean crops of Herman Krone's farm, and before that, we came in surveying the area by helicopter. And the situation on the ground, I'm sorry to say, is as bad as I expected. Secretary Lyng has been giving me regular briefings on the drought conditions in each State and the farm crisis that it's caused. But I wanted to see it for myself, and I thank all of you for showing it to me. What I saw was not a pretty sight -- stunted corn, sparse bean fields, withered plants starved for water, struggling to push their way up.
been born and raised in this part of the country, the State of
know this farm and other areas of the country were blessed with rain this week,
and we're grateful for it. It was enough to wet the surface and turn the dust
into mud. And it may have helped buy some time, but it hasn't solved the
problem. And for many farmers, time has run out. From
There's an old story about Mark Twain. It isn't too sensational, but since it involves a rainstorm, I thought you might like to hear it. Mark Twain was leaving church one Sunday morning with a friend, and it began to pour. And his friend asked Twain, ``Do you think it'll stop?'' And Twain looked up at the sky and says, ``Well, it always has in the past.'' [Laughter]
I think we can say the same thing about the drought. Will it end? It always has in the past. But the question is: When will it end, and how much of the crop can be saved? Whoever talked about putting something aside for a rainy day was not a farmer or a river pilot or a grain elevator operator. We're all praying for a lot more rain and for the end of this drought. I want to let you know that we will do everything that we can.
I'm calling today for Congress to act quickly on comprehensive drought relief, disaster relief for all farmers for all crops, including appropriate forgiveness of advance deficiency payments and relief for all nonprogram crops. I'm also directing Secretary Lyng to lead a fact-finding team which will visit places around the country that are suffering from the drought. They'll see and hear firsthand what the drought is doing to crops and livestock, and report back to me.
I'd like to thank the Krone family for their
hospitality. And I'm very glad to have had the chance to meet with all of you.
And when I return to
can't, because I know it isn't proper for somebody to say did you hear the
funny thing I said? But I've been tempted beyond my strength on the basis of
something here to close with. Some years ago, before I was in this job, I had
been invited to address the National Farm Bureau meeting which was being held
Again, thank you all, and God bless you all.
Note: The President
spoke at at the