The lack of a Farm Bill is hurting more than just farm programs and commodity payments. A wide variety of USDA rural development programs are also in limbo because of the lack of Farm Bill funding. Coleen Callahan, Dir of the IL Rural Development Agency, says, for example, an energy program has been put on hold, “The Rural Energy for America program was funded with the 2008 Farm Bill and that funding expired. We are not sure where this program is going to go.” So to help put pressure on Congress to take action, the USDA has launched a social media effort called #MyFarmBill. Callahan said it is a chance for rural America to speak up about how the lack of a Farm Bill is impacting them, “Anyone anywhere can express how the lack a Farm Bill is affecting them.”
“Time is running out for Congress to pass a Food, Farm and Jobs bill,” Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a video posted on the USDA’s latest social media channel, Instagram. “Use #MyFarmBill to let us know how this bill affects you and your community.” The USDA issued a similar call last December just prior to the one-year extension of the 2008 Farm Bill. That extension expired September 30.
Callahan says bringing all of rural America together shows why Congress needs to address the Farm Bill as a whole and not separate it into different components, “That is what the Farm Bill is about, production agriculture, and local foods, and helping people who are facing food challenges.” Vilsack added, “At USDA, we remain committed to sharing with all Americans the need for a comprehensive Food, Farm and Jobs Bill to keep up momentum in American agriculture, grow the rural economy and create jobs.”