USDA Faces Tough Future

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is facing tough times ahead, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack implied in recent statements. Earlier this week, Vilsack was in Ohio, discussing President Barack Obama’s proposed jobs bill. Vilsack hopes that the $450 billion bill will help jolt the economy, aiding in the creation of much needed jobs in all sectors, including agriculture.

However, despite his hope, Vilsack indicated that the USDA faced some leans times in upcoming budgets. During his talk in Ohio, Vilsack reminded the audience that the USDA was still dealing with a ten percent budget reduction from the previous year. He also predicted that the budget cuts will most likely continue, with anywhere from eight to thirteen percent cuts ahead in the next appropriations bill.

In addition to the generally unfriendly agricultural climate, Vilsack has told farmers that they can expect little aid from the upcoming Farm Bill. The deficit fear on Capitol Hill has led to significant budget cuts to the agricultural industry, cuts that most legislators and farm experts believe will continue in the Farm Bill. Already, many are expecting conservation and crop insurance programs to be seriously defunded.

The prospect isn’t entirely gloomy, however. In a statement in Miami, Vilsack pointed out that there is a bright future for the agriculture industry. Praising farm exports, Vilsack noted that over $900 million of farm exports left through the port of Miami last year, money that helps support over 8,000 agricultural jobs. While government support may be drying up, Vilsack and other farm officials emphasized that the future of the agricultural industry is in local consumption and the creation of local jobs.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer