Could this be the last farm bill?

Published online: Nov 14, 2013

The process of passing a new farm bill has been a long and difficult one-and it's not over yet.

It has fueled speculation that this could be the last comprehensive farm bill we'll ever see-that future farm and nutrition programs will have to be considered as separate pieces of legislation.

But Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack believes separating farm and nutrition programs is a bad idea.

"It gets back to the math," Vilsack said. "Connecting the two makes it easier for folks, particularly in urban and suburban areas-representatives who represent those areas-to vote for a farm bill. So they can go back home and explain to folks why they voted for that legislation-because there are things in it that benefit all Americans."

Vilsack says removing that 1949 permanent law provision from the farm bill would also be a mistake.

"If the House gets its way of ending the permanent law and making this farm bill sort of `it', you run the risk of not ever having another opportunity because that permanent law is a good impetus for getting something done," he said.