Vilsack Defends Farm Spending

In a recent statement pressuring Congress to pass the farm bill once they reconvene, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack defended farm spending, arguing that American farm exports rely heavily on advertising subsidies from the federal government.

For the past several years, the farm bill (which expired on October 1) has dominated rural news. While much of the attention has been on crop insurance programs, farm subsidies, and nutritional spending, agricultural marketing and trade (while a relatively small part of the farm bill) is equally important to the overall health of the farm sector, farm officials say.

In recent remarks about the farm bill, Secretary Vilsack reinforced the importance of promoting overseas farm trade.

Farm exports are on track to set a record high for 2013 (and remain one of the brightest spots in US economic outlooks).

This trade, however, is threatened, Vilsack said, by budget hawks in Congress. In particular, he emphasized the importance of a $200 million a year marketing program that subsidized overseas advertising. The program expired at the beginning of the month.

Without this support, Vilsack said, many farmers will be unable to participate in trade shows and could be at a disadvantage when promoting their goods in foreign markets.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer