In a meeting with Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, President Barack Obama pressured Congress to pass the 2012 Farm Bill as soon as it reconvenes after the August recess. Citing the ongoing drought, Obama reiterated that the farm bill was the best hope for protecting and growing the rural economy.
For the past several months, most of the nation has been in the grip of a serious and ongoing drought. The drought, which is the worst most Americans have seen in 50 years, has done considerable damage to the agricultural sector, degrading more than half of the nation’s corn crop and destroying months of farmer’s hard work and preparations.
The congressional response has been stunningly anemic. While the Senate passed a farm bill back in May, the House has refused to debate the measure. House leadership has shelved the farm bill draft prepared by the house Agriculture Committee and even a temporary drought relief bill was blocked in the Senate. Congress is currently entering a five-week recess having done next to nothing to aid American farmers.
Despite a pledge from President Obama to increase U.S. Department of Agriculture aid by $30 million and despite promises of support from Secretary Vilsack, it seems that the USDA and the Executive Branch have reached the limits of what they can do to aid the farm sector.
President Obama appears to be staking his hopes on Congress. “Now is the time for us to come together and go ahead and get this done. And my hope is that Congress, many of whom will be traveling back to their districts, in some cases in rural communities, and see what’s taking place there, will feel a greater sense of urgency and be prepared to get this done immediately upon their return,” Obama said to reporters after his meeting with Vilsack.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer