Vilsack: Debate Pits Growers Vs. Children

It’s coming down to a choice between large growers or feeding more hungry children in a troubled economy. That’s the decision U.S. lawmakers are facing, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told Reuters on Monday.

Retailers and others involved in the industry surely heard President Barack Obama’s request that lawmakers cut farm payments in his speech last week to a joint session of Congress. According to Vilsack, he already has heard some questions and concerns about the Obama administration’s plan to redirect subsidy payments for large growers into nutrition programs as a way to help end hunger by 2015 and stem the rising tide of childhood obesity.

"We will do our best to frame this discussion in that way, so that people understand: 30 million children, 90,000 farmers," Vilsack told Reuters after speaking to people who work with the nation’s food banks and anti-poverty groups.

"It is a tough choice, but it’s a choice that folks are going to have to make," he said.

Farm, anti-hunger, and land stewardship proponents usually work together on the omnibus "farm bills" that set U.S. policy on farm supports, stewardship incentives, public nutrition programs, exports, agricultural research, and bioenergy programs. Child nutrition programs are due for renewal this year.

President Obama last week proposed phasing out direct payments to growers with sales of more than $500,000 a year, to save $9.8 billion over 10 years, or roughly one-fifth of the $5.2 billion spent annually on the payments. Growers say they count on the payments to help provide stability amid volatile commodity prices, high costs for fertilizer, and unpredictable weather.

Direct payments are paid regardless of crop prices. Other U.S. subsidies are triggered by low prices. The administration would rather spend the money on childhood nutrition programs. One in six Americans receive some food from USDA programs such as food stamps, Vilsack said.

Farm groups and farm state lawmakers already have spoken out against the plan. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson and Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad have been among early critics.

About 126,000 U.S. farms have sales above $500,000 a year, according to the Agriculture Department.

Lawmakers rejected proposals for the 2008 farm law to limit grain, cotton, and soybean growers to a maximum of $250,000 a year in crop subsidies. But they voted to deny crop subsidies to people with more than $500,000 in adjusted gross income from off the farm and they tightened payment rules somewhat.

Vilsack said times have changed in the months since the 2008 law was enacted. "This is a different time than even when the farm bill was passed," he said in an interview, noting the dire economic conditions. He urged anti-hunger advocates gathered in Washington to make the case to Congress to support the move.

"There are vested interest groups that want to protect those (direct farm) payments," Vilsack said in a speech. "They are very vested. One fellow suggested that this was a declaration of war," he said.

(Source: Reuters)

Leave a Reply

Latest News
Stewardship4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program To Launch…
October 26, 2016
The 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program will expand the voluntary retailer program to the full state of Ohio, allowing nutrient Read More
AGCO RG700 at the 2015 National Farm Machinery Show
EquipmentAGCO Parts Rolls Out No-Interest, No-Payments Offer Via…
October 26, 2016
AGCO Corp. is now offering an innovative financing solution on qualifying Parts and Service transactions. Now through December 31, 2016, Read More
Soybean field
Crop InputsIncotec Invests In North America
October 25, 2016
Leading seed enhancement company Incotec, part of Croda, has announced an investment in their North America business. The total investment of Read More
Patriot 25th anniversary
SprayersCase IH Celebrates 25 Years Of Patriot Sprayers At Bens…
October 24, 2016
Case IH executives, employees and special guests celebrated 25 years of production of Case IH Patriot sprayers in a special Read More
4r Nutrient stewardship
StewardshipNominations For The 4R Advocate Program Due October 31
October 24, 2016
Nominations for the 4R Advocate program are due to The Fertilizer Institute by October 31, 2016. The program recognizes agricultural Read More
Corn close up
Eric SfiligojProtecting Agriculture’s Ability To Feed The World
October 24, 2016
The rate of change coming to agriculture is growing, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. This Read More
Student Young Worker CHS
CropLife 100CHS Supports #FirstJob Compact
October 24, 2016
CHS joins the White House and many of the country’s largest employers in signing a new initiative centered on helping Read More
Kennebec Grain terminal
CropLife 100Wheat Growers Kennebec Facility Loads First Rail Cars
October 21, 2016
In a season of firsts for Wheat Growers’ Kennebec Grain Terminal, the first 115-car unit train was loaded with soybeans Read More
ManagementThe Latest Dow-DuPont Rumor, Product of the Year Voting…
October 20, 2016
CropLife Editor Eric Sfiligoj shares a new rumor about the Dow-DuPont merger and updates on two CropLife-driven programs, the CropLife Read More
Soybean Closeup
FungicidesFMC Begins Registration Process For New Fungicide Activ…
October 19, 2016
FMC Agricultural Solutions has begun the joint U.S. EPA and Canadian Pest Management Regulatory Agency registration process for bixafen, a new Read More
Soil Young Corn
Industry NewsAgribusiness Search Firm Appoints New Managing Partner
October 18, 2016
Morris Bixby Group, a leading agribusiness search firm providing the highest quality professional recruiting and career advancement services since 2000, Read More
Wheat Field North Dakota
FertilizerUnited Suppliers Acquires Kansas Fertilizer Business
October 17, 2016
United Suppliers, Inc. has purchased the assets of Evans Enterprises, LLC, an ammonium chloride fertilizer business based in Olathe, KS. Read More
Corn Field
Industry NewsFMC Launches New Operations In Argentina, Exits Joint V…
October 17, 2016
FMC Corp. has exited its joint venture with Ruralco Soluciones S.A. FMC has launched new commercial operations, FMC Quimica S.A., Read More
Dow AgroSciences
InsecticidesRenewed Registration Issued For Products Containing Sul…
October 17, 2016
On October 14, 2016, the U.S. EPA re-established the registration of products containing sulfoxaflor (Isoclast Active), including Transform WG, Closer Read More
Eric SfiligojThe Whys Of Agriculture
October 17, 2016
During 2016, there have been myriad challenges facing the whole agricultural industry. Such wide ranging issues as water protection, sustainable Read More
Young Corn Field
FertilizerImproved Phosphorus Management Essential To Feeding Wor…
October 14, 2016
With a global population expected to reach 9 billion people by 2050, improved management of key essential nutrients such as Read More
ManagementHarvest and Crop Price Updates; EPA and Crop Protection…
October 13, 2016
Glyphosate and atrazine get public comment support from ARA as each is reviewed by EPA, and the latest on the Read More
Matt Hopkins15 Twitter Accounts Every Ag Professional Must Follow
October 13, 2016
What do singer Katy Perry and the President of the United States have in common? They are two of the Read More