A recent speech by Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack acknowledged that American farmers are losing much of their political influence and their organization clout in Washington D.C., potentially leaving farmers vulnerable to congressional infighting that sacrifices agricultural interests.
The recent farm bill battle has highlighted much of what Vilsack said in his address. Since the summer, Congress has refused to vote on two different versions of the farm bill (one passed by the Senate and one passed by the House Agriculture Committee). Even with the 2012 election over, farmers are no closer to a farm bill now than they were in May.
“Why is it that we don’t have a farm bill?” Mr. Vilsack said in a meeting with farm belt leaders. “It isn’t just the differences of policy. It’s the fact that rural America with a shrinking population is becoming less and less relevant to the politics of this country, and we had better recognize that and we better begin to reverse it.”
Vilsack called on farm organizations to put aside their internal squabbling in order to better focus their dwindling political capital on vital agricultural battles.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer