Vilsack Urges “Reform Minded” Farm Bill

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has urged Congress to break a logjam and pass a reform-minded farm bill, but two lobbyists said the deadlocked $500 billion bill may not be enacted for months, or even a year.

Vilsack, who is expected to stay at USDA for at least the start of President Barack Obama’s second term, told Reuters the department “would do everything we can” to implement a new farm bill in time for the 2013 harvest next fall.

With deficit reduction at the top of the agenda for lawmakers during a brief post-election session, Vilsack said “reform becomes a very important component” for the farm bill, already six weeks overdue.

Months ago Obama suggested $33 billion in agricultural cuts, and analysts say the best chance to pass a farm bill this year would be to use its budget cuts as part of an overall plan to reduce the federal deficit.

But they see little chance of a budget pact and say the farm bill is a minor issue for lawmakers to spend time on, compared to looming automatic budget cuts and tax increases.

Food Stamps A Key Issue

Potential changes in agricultural committee assignments in Congress could also slow the path to a farm bill.

Written every few years, farm bills are panoramic legislation that range from production subsidies and soil conservation efforts to food aid, agricultural research and rural economic development. Food stamps account for three-quarters of the spending.

If the House debates the farm bill, Ohio Republican Jim Jordan said he would seek a vote to separate food stamps from the rest of the bill. The step would break a decades-old urban-rural coalition and could fit into a Republican plan to convert food stamps into a block grant to states.

The Senate passed its version of the farm bill in mid June but work on the bill stalled in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives in late July.

The House Agriculture Committee’s bill would make the deepest cuts in food stamps in a generation, four times more than the Senate version.

Vilsack declined during an interview to suggest a limit on food stamp cuts, in favor of direct discussions with lawmakers.

“I am concerned there is a lack of clarity on the part of House Republican leadership on how much of a priority this is,” he said. “Our role is to see the reforms that are enacted do not undercut the purpose of (food stamps) or any other program.”

Against the odds, a final version of the bill could still materialize in the next few weeks, Vilsack said, adding, “This town works best when there is a deadline.”

Some farm groups say Congress will extend the 2008 farm law, which expired on Oct 1, for as long as a year as a stop-gap.

It will be “incredibly difficult” to wrap up a bill in three or four weeks, said Ferd Hoefner of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. He called for attention to issues such as disaster aid, that should not be overlooked in an extension.

Mary Kay Thatcher of the 6-million-member American Farm Bureau Federation, said that a one-year extension of the current bill was most likely, with a six-month extension possible too.

Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran could replace Pat Roberts of Kansas as the top Republican on the Senate Agriculture Committee, which could affect work on the farm bill if it is delayed into 2013.

Roberts took a lead on the Senate farm bill which would eliminate traditional crop subsidies. But southern Senators including Georgia’s Saxby Chambliss said the plan was unfair to rice and peanut growers.

Debbie Stabenow, Michigan Democrat, is expected to return as the Senate Agriculture chairwoman. Frank Lucas, Oklahoma Republican, was expected to serve a second term as House Agriculture chairman.

Topics:

Leave a Reply

Legislation Stories

FertilizerTFI Weighs In On Fertilizer Rail Transport Bill
May 14, 2015
With today’s House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure as a backdrop, The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) registered its support for policies Read More
LegislationGov. Kasich Signs Ohio Bill For Lake Erie Water Quality
April 2, 2015
Gov. John Kasich has signed a bill aimed at protecting Lake Erie and Ohio’s water quality, reports editorial staff at Read More
Lake Erie Nutrient Stewardship
LegislationOhio Lawmakers Finalize Phosphorus Restrictions
March 25, 2015
State lawmakers on Wednesday finalized new rules designed to curb toxic algal blooms on Lake Erie, calling the regulations a major step forward in addressing the problem. Read More
Crop Protection Bulk Storage
LegislationARA: Chemical Security, Biotech Labeling Among Key Issues In 2015
February 12, 2015
The Agricultural Retailers Association is hopeful Beltway gridlock will lessen in 2015, allowing some key agricultural initiatives to gain legislative ground. Read More
Top 100 Articles
CropLife 100Allied Ag Distributors Adds Four New Owners
July 30, 2015
Aligned Ag Distributors LLC has announced the addition of four new customer/owners to Franklin Holding Co. LLC. They are: The Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Purchases California-Based Specialty Crops Retailer
July 20, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings has successfully acquired California-based NH3 Service Co.  Operating as part of Pinnacle’s Performance Agriculture brand, the new locations Read More
Asmus Farm Supply liquid fertilizer facility features 20,000 square feet
CropLife 100Slideshow: Asmus Farm Supply Shows Off Its New Liquid Fertilizer Facility
July 15, 2015
Asmus Farm Supply, Rake, IA, recently added a new liquid fertilizer facility to its company operations. The new liquid fertilizer Read More
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis Feed Division Facilities Receive Safe Feed/Safe Food Certification
July 13, 2015
Wilbur-Ellis Co.’s Feed Division, a marketer and distributor of value-added feed ingredients for the aquaculture, livestock and pet food industries Read More
CropLife 100BRANDT Expands To Brazil With Acquisition
July 8, 2015
BRANDT has acquired a majority interest in Target Brasil Fertilizantes Ltda. through its Brazilian subsidiary. Target Brasil manufactures, distributes and Read More
Milan Kucerak, president/CEO, West Central
CropLife 100West Central Cooperative And Its New President Are A Match Made In Deviation
June 29, 2015
To appreciate just how unique West Central Cooperative is in the world of ag retail, an observer need only consider Read More
Latest News
CropLife 100Allied Ag Distributors Adds Four New Owners
July 30, 2015
Aligned Ag Distributors LLC has announced the addition of four new customer/owners to Franklin Holding Co. LLC. They are: The Read More
FungicidesReport: Sudden Death Syndrome Symptoms Appearing In Soy…
July 30, 2015
Last week, symptoms of sudden death syndrome (SDS) began to appear in April 15-planted soybeans at the University of Illinois’s Read More
Seed/BiotechAdvanta Seeds Adds New Phoenix Corn Hybrids
July 30, 2015
Corn growers in the High Plains and Western states have new options available for the 2016 growing season from Advanta Read More
ManagementTechnology and agriculture: a Futurist’s Perspective
July 30, 2015
Futurist David Zach, speaking at this week’s InfoAg Conference in St. Louis, shared thoughts on the benefits and limitations of Read More
Biofuels Plant in Lousiana
Industry NewsIdle Biofuels Plant In Louisiana To Reopen As Ammonia F…
July 30, 2015
A Lithuania-based company plans to spend $265 million to reopen an idle biofuels refinery in Grant Parish as an ammonia Read More
FFA at Monsanto Booth at the 2015 National Farm Machinery Show
Industry NewsFive Students Receive The 2015 Monty’s Plant Food Compa…
July 29, 2015
This fall, five college-bound students will have financial support through the Monty’s Plant Food Company FFA Scholarship. All five scholarship Read More
GYPSOIL Blendable Pellets
Crop InputsBeneficial Reuse Management Launches Pelletized Gypsum …
July 29, 2015
Beneficial Reuse Management (BRM) announced this week at Ag Media Summit that its GYPSOIL Pelletized Products Division will open a Read More
StewardshipOhio Water Quality Project To Determine How Much Phosph…
July 27, 2015
Researchers with the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University are looking for farmers in Read More
FertilizerKoch Agronomic Services Launches N-TEGRATION Technology
July 27, 2015
Koch Agronomic Services, LLC (KAS) has launched  N-TEGRATION Technology, a process technology platform designed to enable production of enhanced efficiency fertilizers at Read More
HerbicidesExpert: IARC Herbicide Classifications Leading To Confu…
July 24, 2015
Few people in the crop protection industry had heard of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) before this Read More
ManagementFCI Trade Summit Update & Precision Tank Turns 50
July 23, 2015
Editors Dave Frabotta and Eric Sfiligoj discuss the upcoming FCI Trade Summit in Las Vegas, NV, and how Precision Tank Read More
Palmer pigweed seedhead in cotton
HerbicidesUSDA Deregulates Dow AgroSciences’ Enlist Cotton Trait
July 23, 2015
The USDA today issued its decision deregulating Dow AgroSciences’ Enlist cotton trait in the U.S. The USDA has now completed its Read More
Industry NewsVerdesian Life Sciences Showcases Versatile Product Por…
July 23, 2015
Technology has revolutionized agriculture by bringing farmers, retailers and distributors to the forefront of the digital age. To meet the Read More
FertilizerWSJ: Cf Industries Exploring Merger With Dutch Chemical…
July 23, 2015
U.S. fertilizer maker CF Industries is in advanced merger talks with Amsterdam-listed chemical company OCI NV, the Wall Street Journal Read More
HerbicidesNufarm Releases New Panther SC Herbicide
July 23, 2015
Nufarm has announced the availability of new Panther SC herbicide. Panther SC is the first liquid formulation of flumioxazin available Read More
EquipmentFarmLink Launches Farm Equipment Sharing Program
July 23, 2015
FarmLink has introduced a new online farm equipment sharing community – MachineryLink Sharing – leveraging this new economy business model Read More
HerbicidesCould The South’s Most Troublesome Weed Represent A Thr…
July 22, 2015
Palmer amaranth is undoubtedly the most troublesome weed in the southern United States, taking a devastating toll on both cotton Read More
Industry NewsH.J. Baker Hires New Director Of International Sales
July 22, 2015
Global Agriculture firm H.J. Baker announced today that Steve Langley has joined the company’s Crop Performance Division and Animal Health Read More