Vilsack Ratchets up Farm Bill Pressure

Now that the Senate has passed the 2012 Farm Bill, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack is taking a much more active role in promoting the bill and pressuring the House of Representatives to speedily pass it.

After months of delay, and more than 70 proposed amendments, the U.S. Senate finally passed the 2012 Farm Bill. Celebrations may be premature, however, since the farm bill still has to face passage in a hostile House of Representatives. While the Senate bill agreed to nearly $24 billion in agricultural spending cuts, the House has indicated a desire to increase cuts, particularly targeting nutritional programs.

While House Agriculture Committee Chair Frank Lucas has stressed the importance of passing a new farm bill as quickly as possible, Majority Leader Eric Cantor does not appear to share his sentiments. Last week, Cantor delayed the House markup process for the farm bill, taking it off the House’s agenda until after July 4 recess.

The current farm bill expires on September 30.

Secretary Vilsack, speaking at a meeting of land-grant universities, stressed the importance of passing a new farm bill and giving American farmers a coherent, unified federal farm policy, stating that farmers and producers need to know what programs will support them. Referring to Cantor, Vilsack said, “I would ask him to take his finger off the pause button so the rest of us don’t have to hit the panic button.”

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer