Vilsack says timing more than congress members' calendar

Published online: Nov 28, 2013

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says there's more at stake than the Congressional calendar when it comes to completing a farm bill before they year's out.

In a conference call Thursday morning, Secretary Vilsack said that legislators are capable of meeting a deadline when they have to, but he says it's more than just the timing of members of Congress.

"It's that farmer and rancher who's trying to make decisions out there in the countryside who still today doesn't quite know precisely what the programs are going to be, doesn't know how to tell his banker what the programs are going to be, doesn't know how to decide whether to expand, to buy an additional piece of equipment because he or she does not know what the programs are going to be," said Vilsack, responding to a question about alternatives if farm bill passage doesn't happen this year.

Vilsack talked to reporters following the release of White House Rural Council report highlighting the economic importance of passing a farm bill.

The report, released Thursday by the White House, outlines what the Obama Administration says are the economic benefits of a new farm bill.

According to news release issued by the White House, the measure would build on recent momentum of the U.S. agriculture economy, a key engine of economic growth.

Promote development in communities across the country, by expanding new opportunities for American agriculture, increasing manufacturing potential and supporting businesses across rural America.

According to the release, the bill protects food assistance programs, for families and individuals - in rural, suburban and urban areas alike. It also creates a reliable safety net for farmers and ranchers, including a strong crop insurance program, a long term extension of disaster programs and retroactive assistance for livestock producers.

The measure continues federal conservation efforts, working with farmers and ranchers to conserve soil and water. It promotes new markets for U.S. producers abroad and at home as well as honors U.S. trade commitments to export products around the world.

The release says the farm bill supports research, ensuring that agricultural innovation continues. And reduce the deficit, by enacting money-saving reforms.

The report highlights the economic benefits that would result from these changes, and the imperative to passing a farm bill as soon as possible.