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

LegislationUSDA: Quick Implementation Of Disaster Assistance Programs A ‘Top Priority’
July 9, 2014
USDA has processed 106,000 payments to farmers in 40 states across the country who suffered livestock and grazing losses between Oct. 2011 and passage of the 2014 Farm Bill. Read More
LegislationTFI Praises White House For Signing WRRDA Into Law
June 11, 2014
The bill streamlines U.S. Army Corps of Engineers projects, prioritizes authorized waterway improvements and provides needed adjustments to the Inland Waterways Trust Fund. Read More
LegislationAg Policy: Plenty Of Fertilizer Issues Ahead
January 2, 2014
From West Fertilizer to the Chesapeake Bay, fertilizer producers and dealers are keeping an eye on several Beltway developments in 2014. Read More
LegislationLack Of Farm Bill Leaves Farmers Facing Uncertainty In 2014
December 13, 2013
With just a few legislative working days remaining in 2013, the likelihood of a new farm bill is waning, leaving farmers in limbo once again. Read More

Top 100 Articles

CropLife 100CHS: Driving Momentum To Help Farmer-Owners Grow
December 11, 2014
CHS Inc., the nation’s leading farmer-owned cooperative and a global energy, grains and foods company, must capture new opportunities to Read More
CropLife 100BRANDT, Verdesian Ink Distribution Agreement
December 9, 2014
The agreement grants BRANDT the exclusive right to sell and market Verdesian’s patented Steric chemistry in the Turf and Ornamental and eastern U.S. ag markets under the BRANDT Reaction product line name. Read More
CropLife 100CropLife 100: The Colors Of Custom Application
December 5, 2014
Although many color spray rigs are in the yards of the nation’s top ag retailers, the majority of them still come in only a few shades. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Invests In Meridian Agriculture Distribution
December 4, 2014
Meridian will provide retailers with supplier-branded products and numerous opportunities to differentiate themselves from their competitors. Read More
CropLife 100CropLife 100: Entering A New Seed Era
December 4, 2014
The seed category has been re-vitalized during the past few years, and more good news (and varieties) are headed the industry’s way in 2015. Read More
CropLife 100CropLife 100: The Depressed State Of Fertilizer
December 3, 2014
Following downright giddy growth earlier this decade, fertilizer sales have fallen back down to earth the past two years. Read More

Latest News

Seed/BiotechKaren Arthur Joins AgriThority As Seed Treatment Produc…
December 19, 2014
Prior to joining AgriThority, Arthur directed research and development programs, overseeing laboratory and field research, to build the Valent U.S.A. seed treatment portfolio. Read More
EquipmentJohn Deere To Sell Crop Insurance Business
December 19, 2014
Deere & Co. has reached a definitive agreement to sell its crop insurance business, subject to regulatory approval, to Farmers Mutual Hail Insurance Co. of Iowa. Read More
Crop InputsNufarm Fills Regulatory VP Position
December 18, 2014
Nufarm announced today that Rob Schwehr has been promoted to the position of Vice President of Innovation & Regulatory Affairs for Nufarm Americas. Read More
Seed/BiotechReport: China Approves Viptera Corn, U.S. Officials Awa…
December 17, 2014
Chinese authorities have informed some agriculture industry officials the government has approved U.S. imports of a type of genetically modified corn developed by Syngenta. Read More
FertilizerMonty’s Plant Food Brings In New Sales Rep
December 16, 2014
Monty's Plant Food Company has hired Warren Kearns as its newest Sales Representative for the South Carolina area. Read More
EquipmentHagie Wins 2014 CropLife IRON Product Of The Year Award
December 15, 2014
The self-propelled sprayer maker has a hit on its hands with the new STS Series model. Read More
Syngenta
Seed/BiotechSyngenta Sees China Approving Contentious GMO Corn Soon
December 15, 2014
Syngenta will make an announcement when it receives official documentation from China that Agrisure Viptera corn, known as MIR 162, has been cleared for import. Read More
Crop InputsVerdesian Life Sciences Names Vice President Of Communi…
December 15, 2014
Amy Bugg will oversee the execution of all promotional strategies for the corporate brand and the complete product portfolio. Read More
StewardshipFarmers, Retailers Attend 4R Certification 4U Workshop
December 15, 2014
More than 160 farmers and ag retailer attended the “4R Certification 4U” workshop December 12 to learn more about the 4Rs of nutrient stewardship, water quality research in the area and cost-sharing opportunities. Read More
Matt Hopkins10 Best New Agriculture Apps For 2015
December 15, 2014
These new agriculture apps are certain to help ag professionals do their jobs more efficiently in 2015 and beyond. Read More
ManagementARA Learnings, Retail Buying Intentions: Welcome To Cro…
December 12, 2014
This informal video program puts news and events effecting retailers into context, and features Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj. Read More
Seed/BiotechMonsanto Herbicide-Tolerant Technology Closer To Commer…
December 12, 2014
The final EIS moves Monsanto one step closer to the introduction of Bollgard II XtendFlex cotton and Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans, paving the way to provide access to dicamba-tolerant soybeans and cotton. Read More
Seed/BiotechUSDA Issues Final Environmental Impact Statement On Her…
December 12, 2014
The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is issuing a final environmental impact statement on varieties of cotton and soybeans that have been genetically engineered for resistance to several herbicides, including the one known as dicamba. Read More
CropLife 100CHS: Driving Momentum To Help Farmer-Owners Grow
December 11, 2014
CHS Inc., the nation’s leading farmer-owned cooperative and a global energy, grains and foods company, must capture new opportunities to Read More
LegislationARA Applauds CFATS Passage Prior To Holiday Adjournment
December 11, 2014
The streamlined bill provides a four-year authorization of the CFATS program and guidance to DHS on key issues of chemical facility security Read More
Seed/BiotechBayer CropScience’s ILeVO Approved By EPA
December 11, 2014
EPA has approved ILeVO, the only seed treatment that protects the root system against infections caused by the Sudden Death Syndrome fungus and has activity against dangerous nematodes. Read More
Biologicals in Emerging Markets Map.
Crop InputsBiocontrols Could Quadruple By 2025; Will Regulators Pl…
December 11, 2014
The European experience with GMOs offers caution — and a promise — for biologicals. Read More
Crop InputsBASF Donates $75,000 To Feeding America
December 10, 2014
The donation will support Feeding America’s National Produce Program, an initiative that helps with planning, transportation and logistics to ensure fresh produce deliveries to the 200 member food banks around the country. Read More