Secretary Vilsack spoke to attendees at the American Seed Trade Association last month, and excerpts of his comments were used in this post. Background information was provided courtesy of Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.
In U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack’s office, if a certain piece of legislature is called the “Farm Bill,” a dollar fine is enforced. The secretary wholeheartedly believes this bill is not just a “Farm Bill,” but rather a “Food, Jobs and Farm Bill.”
“When you say ‘Farm Bill,’ you essentially speak to that one-tenth of 1 percent of the population,” states Vilsack. “Well, I have news for you and the country: Every single American has a stake in this legislation. When you start talking about it as a ‘Food Bill,’ it gets people’s attention. When you say it’s a ‘Jobs Bill,’ which it is, you really get people’s attention … so first and foremost, let’s refer to it for what it is. It’s a ‘Food, Jobs and Farm Bill.’”
If you go to the USDA website, it quickly becomes evident that the priorities of the department include much more than production agriculture and farmers. Programs like the Let’s Move! Initiative, Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food and The People’s Garden are prominently placed on the home page, adding credence to Vilsack’s statement.
In mid-June, the the U.S. Senate passed its version of the bill, and then it moved to the U.S. House of Representatives for approval. Vilsack was pleased with the Senate’s work on the bill and hopes the House works quickly as well. Vilsack said he is afraid if the bill doesn’t move swiftly through the House, then the lack of momentum could cause confusion in the markets.
“So we need the House to get to work,” he stresses. “The House Ag Committee has the leadership of Chairman (Frank) Lucas (R-Okla.) and Rep. (Collin) Petersen (D-Minn.) to work in a bipartisan way and get something through,” says Vilsack.
Even though the bill will likely differ from the Senate’s version, Vilsack urges the House to “Get it to the floor, get 218 votes, get into conference and do it before September 30.”
How do you feel about the 2012 Farm Bill? Do you think farmers will see changes from previous bills? Tell us what you think.