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
ManagementSouth Africa Update and the New New Leader G5
February 24, 2017
Editors Eric Sfiligoj and Dan Jacobs discuss the recent visit to South Africa by sister magazine AgriBusiness Global and the Read More
Fall Creek Watershed
StewardshipUpdate: Nutrient Stewardship In Indiana Requires Cool, …
February 24, 2017
Update: The application deadline for NCRS funding has been extended to March 17, 2017. Green leaves sparkle in the sunlight. Trees Read More
Greenleaf Technologies TADF03-D Dual Fan Nozzle
NozzlesSix Greenleaf Nozzles Approved For XtendiMax With Vapor…
February 22, 2017
Greenleaf Technologies has announced that six of its TurboDrop D Series nozzles have been approved for use with Monsanto’s XtendiMax Read More
Winter Wheat
Industry NewsTiger-Sul Hires Manitoba And Eastern Canada Account Man…
February 22, 2017
Tiger-Sul, a global leader in sulphur fertilizers and crop performance products, has announced that sales veteran Trevor Loewen has joined Read More
NFMS 17 Hagie Sprayer
Eric SfiligojThe Read From Louisville: Uncertain
February 22, 2017
By the time this column appears across the country, the annual Commodity Classic will be in full swing. This means Read More
SprayersApache 1000 Series Sprayer Earns 2017 EquipmentWatch Hi…
February 21, 2017
ET Works has been named a winner in the 2017 EquipmentWatch Highest Retained Value Awards program, the industry’s only award Read More
Measuring Bulk Tanks
StewardshipMeister Media Among 2017 Award Winners Presented By The…
February 21, 2017
The Pesticide Stewardship Alliance (TPSA) held its annual conference in San Diego, CA, earlier this month where three awards were Read More
John Reifsteck
CropLife 100GROWMARK’s Reifsteck Earns NCFC Director Of The Y…
February 21, 2017
GROWMARK Chairman of the Board and President John Reifsteck has earned the prestigious Director of the Year Award from the Read More
Roy Blunt
LegislationARA Recognizes Blunt, Heitkamp For Legislative Efforts …
February 17, 2017
Agricultural industry continues to face federal regulatory challenges. Thankfully, agriculture’s allies in the U.S. Senate stepped forward. The Agricultural Retailers Read More
LegislationThe Fertilizer Institute Commends Senate On Confirmatio…
February 17, 2017
The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) President Chris Jahn issued the following statement on the Senate confirmation of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Read More
Trump, Senate, Cabinet
LegislationBREAKING: Trump EPA Nominee Scott Pruitt Confirmed by S…
February 17, 2017
Scott Pruitt, who as Oklahoma’s attorney general spent years suing the Environmental Protection Agency over its efforts to regulate various Read More
ManagementFebruary Road Trip Edition
February 17, 2017
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discuss their recent visits to Indiana and Kentucky. Read More
Heritage Cooperative Finished Building Aerial
ManagementHeritage Cooperative, Agland Co-op Approve Merger
February 17, 2017
Agland Co-op and Heritage Cooperative stockholders have both approved the merger agreement between Agland Co-op and Heritage Cooperative. Now begins Read More
LegislationARA Fly-In: Ag Retail Descends on Capitol Hill, Lawmake…
February 15, 2017
More than 100 agricultural retailers, distributors and suppliers headed to Capitol Hill Tuesday morning for the Agribusiness Congressional Fly-in, according to a Read More
Untreated soybean seed Heartland Coop
Seed/BiotechMarrone Bio Innovations, Groundwork BioAg Bio-stacked M…
February 13, 2017
Marrone Bio Innovations, Inc. and Groundwork BioAg, Ltd have announced successful seed treatment field trials of the world’s first all-biological Read More
NL5000 With G5 Technology
SpreadersNew Leader Introduces NL5000 Dry Nutrient Applicator Wi…
February 13, 2017
New Leader, a division of Highway Equipment Company (HECO), has announced the next generation of spreading technology with the NL5000 Read More
Fertilizer Storage
Crop InputsThe State Of The Fertilizer Industry
February 9, 2017
He’s all hat, no horse.” It’s a humorous way of describing a person who tells a good story, but is Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Agriculture Agrees To Credit Agreement Amendme…
February 9, 2017
Pinnacle Operating Corp. has entered into an amendment (the “Amendment”) to its First Lien Credit Agreement that will provide for, Read More