According to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, a new farm bill is desperately needed in order to avoid deep cuts to farm programs towards the end of the year. Hinting that they were likely to pass massive spending cuts after the 2012 election, Vilsack hammered the Republican Party and House obstructionism, stating that the GOP was more interested in tax cuts for the wealthy than protecting the American farm sector.
For the past several months, progress on the 2012 Farm Bill has appeared stalled. While the Senate passed a bipartisan bill back in May, many political analysts believe that it has little chance of passing the House of Representatives (whose members are champing at the bit to cut food stamps funding). The House Agriculture Committee passed a farm bill draft in July, but House leadership has refused to allow a full floor vote (with Speaker of the House John Boehner fearing that Tea Party conservatives may reject the bill’s final price tag).
With only a handful of legislative days left until the current farm bill expires, Vilsack and other politicians are ramping up the political rhetoric and hoping to force the House leadership to take action. Vilsack in particular is combining this agricultural rhetoric with election year attacks, emerging as an important Obama-surrogate in battleground states like Iowa and Ohio.
Speaking at a meeting of the National Farmers Union, Vilsack railed against House Republicans, stating that they were “deflecting your attention on poor folks. [Their real goals are reducing] your safety net, protecting the Defense Department and making sure there is enough left for tax cuts for really wealthy Americans. They don’t want you to focus on that.”
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer