Vilsack: 2012 Farm Bill Smaller Than Previous Years

In an interview with the Peoria, Illinois, Journal Star, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack claimed that the upcoming Farm Bill will be significantly smaller than previous Farm Bills. While he was unable to comment on specific cuts, he pointed out several areas that would see funding reductions.

Most importantly, and perhaps most controversially, farm subsidies in the form of direct payments will almost certainly be cut. Critics of increased farm spending have repeatedly targeted direct payment subsidies as wasteful. In addition, many have claimed that they benefit large-scale farmers at the expense of smaller producers. In response to these claims, as well as current high crop prices, Vilsack and other politicians have supported removing these subsidies. “There will be a redesign of the safety net for farmers. You can expect changes in the direct payment system,” Vilsack stated.

Other areas where farmers can expect cuts are agricultural research and USDA workforce budgets. While Vilsack reaffirmed his department’s commitment to research and scientific development, he acknowledged that research budgets would almost certainly be reduced. In addition, Vilsack hinted that the USDA could see a reduction in its workforce, possibly as high as 10,000 employees.

Finally, Vilsack stated that rural development projects, such as the USDA’s efforts to expand broadband internet to rural communities, might lose funding, forcing the USDA to partner with non-profits in order to maintain rural infrastructures.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer