Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack addressed the Senate Committee on Agriculture earlier this week, addressing the budget for the upcoming Farm Bill. In his statement, Vilsack acknowledged the upcoming spending cuts and understood that the agricultural sector would have to make difficult choices over the next several months. However, he urged Senators to think about the consequences of severe budget cuts and reminded that of the important role that agriculture plays in the American economy.
Prominent in his statements to the Senate was his emphasis on the role of agriculture in the economy. According to Vilsack, “Agriculture is responsible for one out of every 12 jobs in America. And while many sectors of our economy are running trade deficits, American agriculture has enjoyed a trade surplus for nearly 50 years.” In addition, Vilsack stated, “the incredible productivity of America’s farmers and ranchers makes us more prosperous. American families spend only about 6 or 7¢ out of every dollar on food – less than in almost any other nation. That means we spend more on a nice home, save for retirement, or fund our children’s college education.”
While Vilsack accepted a smaller Farm Bill than previous years, he also urged the Senate to remember agriculture’s vital role when passing the next Farm Bill, stating, “I hope that this committee will give serious thought to your priorities for American agriculture – your priorities for USDA – and to the values of the American people.”
While many in the House and Senate support reducing farm spending, there are serious disagreements over how to achieve these goals. President Obama’s budget reduces agriculture spending by limiting federal payments to wealthy farmers. Republican proposals in the House of Representatives slashed farm support spending across the board.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer