The President. Thank you all very much. Hey, let me tell you something. In case you don't know it, we finally have a first-class, great secretary of agriculture in Texas that understands the farmer in Rick Perry. And I was very, very proud of him at that Houston convention when he got up there and told it as it is, making all Texans proud, making people across the country understand that we know about agriculture and we know about the American spirit. Rick, thank you very much for that introduction.
And let me salute the Future Farmers that are with us today. Also, you know I'm having a little feud with the liberal gridlocked Congress. If we had more Congressmen like Larry Combest, we wouldn't have a gridlocked Congress. And may I thank Mayor Moe Dozier and, of course, Sonny Lupton, the one-footed glider pilot who has made us feel so much at home here, turned the facilities of this great place over to us. And I'm very, very grateful to him. May I say hello to Carye Gruben, the 1992 South Plains Maid of Cotton. You should be very proud to be represented by her. And special thanks to Randy Kennedy, who has worked so hard on this event, and Jane Anne Stinnett, both of them and so many more.
Our convention in Houston was so successful that I just had to get back in Texas for another major event. But unfortunately, I won't be able to stay to see the Raiders open it up tomorrow with Oklahoma. But go Texas Tech!
A little bit of reminiscing: Barbara and I moved down into Odessa in 1948, and then we lived in Midland, Odessa-Midland for 12 years. And I've driven every mile between Lubbock County and Ector and Midland County, into Dawson County and Howard County and -- [applause] -- I thought we might have a few from around there. But I'll tell you, on a day like this, you can't help but feel you're glad to be back. This is beautiful, and I'm very grateful to all for this fantastic turnout.
I remember when west Texas was dry. I remember picking out the Lubbock tumbleweeds out of one of those evaporative air conditioners in our little house in Odessa. No more, I'll tell you. But when I lived in -- one more reminiscent that some of you football fans, older ones, might remember. We had a touch football team in Midland. And we played against the Lubbock team made up of Glen Davis, Mel Kutnow and Bobby Lane. Now, how do you like that for Lubbock excellence? We lost.
Now, I came back here to Texas today to the heart of this wonderful part of rural America to talk about the farm and to talk about the future of the farmer. Let me be very clear right up front: I am for opening up world markets, for increasing exports, for keeping the Government off your back at home, and being there to help you get back on your feet when disaster strikes.
The challenge for agricultural America is to win this economic competition and to win the peace. And out here in Texas we know this: We must be a military superpower, we must be an economic superpower, and we must be an export superpower. That means looking forward and getting ready to compete. Make no mistake, America's farmer can compete with anybody, anywhere around the world, provided that playing field is level, provided we get an even shot at world trade. I've fought to open new markets for American agriculture: Texas beef to Asia, Midwest grain to Russia, and just last month we concluded a North American free trade agreement with Mexico. That means new markets, and that means jobs for Americans. Open up trade.
You all know this, but I want to share it with the rest of the country here today. American products, from blue jeans spun from Texas high-plains cotton to bushels of wheat from Haskell County, are in demand everywhere. In fact, one in every three acres planted in this country produces crops for export. Exports are up, and that is good for the growth of the American economy. If it hadn't been for exports, we'd really be in deep trouble. Thank you for exporting our goods and services abroad.
This fall we've got a choice. Rick, I appreciate what you said, that I do stand with American agriculture. This fall we've got a real clear choice, an important choice because it's going to mean the economic health of American farmers all across the country. And if our opponents in this year's election put up these walls around America, whether they're high tariff walls or high tax walls, the first losers will be American agriculture and American jobs.
And let me make this point. You know that Texas is America's number one exporter of cotton, and the State of Texas ranks among the top 10 exporters in 14 different major crops. And if Governor Clinton gets infected with that antitrade strain from the protectionist crowd he's running around with, the big labor guys, it's going to be Texas that catches pneumonia. And we cannot have that.
One of the big union heads in Washington today was quoted in a Washington paper as saying, ``Well, we're not going to get Clinton to take a position on the free trade agreement. We'll get that all worked out after the election.'' They're trying to get it worked out for protection, and that's going to hurt jobs in west Texas. And we cannot have it. He's got to commit. When you're President you can't sit on the fence -- ``Well, on the one hand it's this way, and on the one hand another.'' You've got to say, I'm for it or against it. I am for opening markets abroad. I am for free trade.
Audience members. Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!
The President. I hope the west Texas farmer knows this because you're in this fight with us. We are fighting for a successful conclusion of the GATT round. That's the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. A GATT agreement will force our competitors, especially those in the European Community, to cut their massive export subsidies on agriculture. And we want free trade, but I am going to insist on fair trade.
To help us reach these good agreements we're going to be using the same strategy that won the U.S. military security: peace through strength, no unilateral disarmament. And we've used this export enhancement program, we call it EEP, to fight for market share against the EC subsidized exports. And since 1989, we have doubled the number of EEP initiatives and tripled the value of these EEP bonuses, selling almost billion of commodities to 93 countries. But now we need to do more. The fact is that farm prices, the ones you all are getting are too low today. And to get those prices where they belong, we must expand demand. That means an even more aggressive export policy. And so today I am announcing the largest EEP initiative in history, to sell over one billion bushels, or over 30 million metric tons of wheat, with a market value of over billion, to 28 countries around the world. The wheat farmers have to lead the way from up in the Panhandle. We're committed to reducing subsidies worldwide, but my announcement ought to leave no doubt. With heavy EC subsidies continuing, this export program is vital, and we will use it as necessary.
Now, to keep running, work in the global marketplace, we've got to get ready to compete. So we've expanded research in everything from alternative uses of agricultural products to biotechnology. And right here in Texas, a new kind of cotton called B.T. cotton looks and feels like regular cotton, but protects itself from bugs by producing its own insecticide. And we will always work to make sure of this: American products are the highest quality products in the entire world.
I know you've had it tough here with these excessive rains, but I'll tell you one thing: Over the past 3 years agricultural income has averaged a higher level than at any time in American history. But even so, 1992 has been a tough year for rural America. And last fall's extreme drought -- Sonny and I were talking about it, and Randy, inside -- followed up by a freeze in late May, hurt the winter wheat crop from Kansas to the Texas Panhandle. And you know the Cotton Belt, what's happened: You saw a freeze in '91 followed by a wet spring that prevented many acres from being planted at all. And for some farmers, these disasters come on the heels of losses last year and the year before.
Last fall I signed a bill, and Rick referred to it, I believe, to provide almost billion in disaster assistance for '90 and '91 crops. And today I want to announce the next step. I am today releasing an additional 5 million in disaster assistance funds to help tackle these emergencies which have stricken the American farmer. American farmers need help, and with this action you'll get it. I know that that 5 million will not solve every problem. We will begin signups for winter wheat next Tuesday, other crops shortly thereafter. We can't prevent an early freeze, but these funds will help keep farmers on their feet so that the bankers will work with you and the next season's crops can be planted. And if additional disaster funds are needed, we will secure them.
You know, when people are hurting in this country, whether it's from a hurricane in south Florida or losing a tremendous sugar crop over in Louisiana, the Government must help. We must help in disasters of the magnitude that you've suffered right here in cotton country. And sometimes Government can help by just simply getting out of the way and letting Americans do what they do best, roll up their sleeves and get the job done.
Take the subject of regulation. My opponents want to regulate the world's safest food supply and drive up its costs. Yes, I'm for food safety, but let's also protect the consumer from the bureaucrats. Let's have less regulation out of the United States Congress.
And now let me get to a subject that I really want to warm up to. Take the subject of taxes. The difference here is simple. Already, and he hasn't even started yet, my opponent wants to raise them by 0 billion. And I want to cut them across the board. I made one mistake; I'm not going to make another. He's already said 0 billion. No, we're not going to have that.
And if any area understands what I'm about to say it's west Texas, with the values we have. Government spending: the choice is clear. They want to spend -- already, his own proposal -- want to spend 0 billion more. And I want to cut spending, keep the growth on mandatory programs. And I need your help. Ask Congress to pass my plan for a check-off for America. If the Congress can't do it, give the taxpayer the right to check his tax return and force all of us to get that deficit down. I mentioned that in Houston, but I'll mention it again. We're mortgaging the future of these Future Farmers here, and we've got to stop it. I want a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, and I want a Congress that will pass it. Help me. We can get that done. And while we're at it, give me what 43 Governors have, a line-item veto. If they can't do it, give me a shot. Give me a chance.
Now, let me just say this in conclusion. We tried the other side's recipe of higher taxes and higher spending before. We went down that path of foreign policy inexperience. We tried that combination in the late seventies of a Congress controlled by the liberal Democrats and a liberal Democratic President. And you remember what the results were. We had back-to-back years of double-digit inflation. Farmers were devastated. We had grain embargoes. We had interest rates at 21.5 percent. Farmers, totally devastated. We had grain embargoes that just kind of fizzled out, but nevertheless hurt every grain grower in the whole United States. Farmers were devastated. So let's not try that again. We cannot afford a rubber-check Congress and a rubber-stamp President. Do not take a chance on that and go back to those misery index days.
So in this political year it's easy to be fooled. And the new kid on the block always shows up with new lines, the same old song. Here in west Texas you know all about the choice between the latest synthetic fiber and real cotton. And I don't pretend to have the stretch of spandex; I don't understand all of that. But I do know this: Some ideas and values and concepts are timeless. Freedom works. Opportunity awaits those who dare to reach for it. Competition brings out the best in the American people, brings it out. So if we remember those home truths and remember the strengths that we get from the families that are all here today, there is no telling what we can accomplish. The other side says that we're a country in decline. Don't you believe it for one single minute. We are number one, the most respected country anywhere in the world.
So coming back to west Texas is good for the soul. Thank you for this fantastic, fantastic welcome back. I ask for your support. We have changed the world. We have brought dramatic reduction in nuclear weapons. We won a magnificent victory with the sons and daughters of Lubbock County there in Desert Storm. And now help me bring this new prosperity to the United States of America. We can get the job done.
Thank you all very much. And may God bless our great country.
Note: The President spoke at 1:48 p.m. at Shallowater Co-op Gin Co. In his remarks, he referred to Rick Perry, Texas commissioner of agriculture; Sonny Lupton, president, Shallowater Co-op Gin Board; Randy Kennedy, manager, Shallowater Co-op Gin Co.; and Jane Anne Stinnett, regional chairman, Bush-Quayle '92.