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Where farmers need US help

By Jonathan Harsch / March 16, 1982



The House Agriculture Committee, says an aide, sees an urgent need to support four specific areas ''neglected'' in the Reagan administration budget proposals. Because of ''deep concern about the effect of low farm commodity prices,'' the committee recommends extra funding for:

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* Farm export promotion credits.

* Conservation programs.

* Animal and plant health programs.

* Loans for building new on-farm storage facilities.

J. Dawson Ahalt, deputy assistant secretary of Agriculture, acknowledges that farmers face serious problems: ''Demand is weak in the face of large supplies and, as a result, prices are very depressed. The situation is further exacerbated by high interest rates that put a squeeze on a lot of farmers.''

Mr. Ahalt says ''we would all like to have'' the extra funding proposed by the House and ''up front'' payments to farmers for idling cropland rather than this year's unpaid acreage reduction program. Yet such spending is unlikely, he says, ''given the current size of the federal deficit.''

Kansas State University agricultural economist Leonard Schruben calls for an emergency ''bail-out,'' explaining that ''I know young farmers who produce some of the highest yields in the county. Their land is well tended, their cattle are well tended. . . . They should not have to leave farming simply because we are going through a bad slump in prices due to conditions outside the United States.''