Vilsack Talks Farm Bill

In a recent address at the American Farm Bureau’s annual meeting, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack discussed the future of the farm bill and the shrinking political influence of the farm community.

Last year was a rough one for many farmers across the country. Politically, the 2012 Farm Bill stalled spectacularly in Congress, with GOP leadership in the House of Representatives obstinately refusing to hold a vote on the bill. With a new Congress in session, all the work done on the farm bill thus far has been undone and Congress finds itself having to start the process all over again.

With farm groups preparing to begin pressuring the new Congress, Vilsack laid out the major concerns of the US Department of Agriculture, outlining the major policies he would fight to include in the next farm bill. In particular, Vilsack stressed the importance of farm safety nets, like strengthened crop insurance programs, and the need for continued farm research and biofuel production.

In addition to talking about the farm bill, Secretary Vilsack emphasized the need for farmers to make alliances across the political spectrum. With the number of farmers on the decline, fewer and fewer politicians are concerned with the needs of the farm community. In order to avoid being politically marginalized, Vilsack recommended making strategic alliances that go beyond the agricultural sector. Combining the farm bill with nutritional legislation, for example, helps create alliances between urban legislators and agricultural politicians. Embracing immigration reform could also help to unite farmers with the Hispanic community.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer