Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack is worried about an upcoming tax battle in Congress, fearing that debt-ceiling debates will interfere with upcoming farm aid debates.
Vilsack’s fears are partially grounded in recent history. Last year, Congress’s debt-ceiling debate lasted months and resulted in an American credit downgrade. The agreement reached between congressional leaders and President Obama prevented a default by the U.S. government, but also committed Congress to reducing the deficit by nearly $2 trillion by 2013 or face across the board budget cuts (goals that have not been met).
With Congress failing to pass a new farm bill or a drought relief bill before the August recess, Vilsack is worried that congressional business this fall will revolve around tax policy and sequestration (the upcoming budgetary cuts) rather than aid for struggling farmers.
“The risks become much greater after September 30 that the whole discussion gets embroiled in conversations of sequester and tax policy, which makes a process which ought to be simple far more complex,” Vilsack said in a CSPAN interview.
President Obama also spoke about the importance of the farm bill, hoping that Congress won’t allow tax debate to undermine the farm industry. “They need to pass a farm bill that not only helps farmers and ranchers respond to these kinds of disasters, but also makes necessary reforms and gives them some certainty year-round,” he said.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer