Vilsack Heads to Minnesota

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack recently traveled to Minnesota, where he spoke to the Minnesota Farm Bureau and urged Congress to take quick action on a new five-year farm bill.

Farmers, farm lobbyists, and rural politicians have spent the last year frustrated with congressional gridlock and partisan politics in Washington. The 2012 presidential election froze roughly eight months of work on a new five-year farm bill. With the inauguration of a new Congress in early January, all progress on the 2012 Farm Bill was restarted, leaving politicians and farmers back at square one.

Without a new farm bill, farmers argue, they will not be able to know what kinds of subsidies and supports to expect in the coming year. Without this knowledge, they will have to guess at what crops to plant, what risks to take, and what protections they can expect in the event of a natural disaster or crop failure.

While Congress extended the expired farm bill for about nine months, this extension has left many farmers out in the cold. “An extension of the existing bill did not include any livestock disaster assistance,” Vilsack said. “It didn’t include a new system for dairy that would’ve made it a little bit easier for dairy producers in this state to continue in production. Didn’t include a rural development commitment; it didn’t include an energy title. So all of the things we were talking about in terms of rebuilding this rural economy, that in turn helps to create jobs here in cities, isn’t adequately supported with an extension of the existing bill as it was structured.”

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer