Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack testified before the House Agriculture Committee yesterday (Tuesday) at a hearing to review the state of the rural economy. Vilsack believes the ag economy is strong and that the strength of American agriculture is driving further economic opportunity across rural America. House Ag Chairman Frank Lucas says few in the ag sector will deny the ag economy has down well overall in the last few years – but that well-being hasn’t been distributed evenly across the entire sector. Lucas says ag is highly cyclical and the ag community must be prepared for bad yields, bad prices and lower net farm income in the future. He says it’s important to be careful in ensuring direct payments are replaced with policy that works for all commodities in all areas of the country – acknowledging that crop insurance is the backbone of the safety net – but also has limitations in protecting against multi-year price declines. Lucas says the agriculture community must stand united in facing the challenges ahead.
America’s rural economy is tied closely to the success of America’s farmers and ranchers – and Vilsack says USDA has worked to provide a strong safety net for producers while expanding markets for U.S. products. He says USDA will work in the coming years to further support production ag by investing in strong agricultural research and expanding new markets around the world – specifically by building on three new trade agreements with Korea, Colombia and Panama. Vilsack says there is unlimited opportunity for the rural economy – and USDA is focusing on providing new local and regional marketing opportunities for farmers and ranchers.
To further expand these opportunities – he says USDA will help spur job creation through conservation and management of the country’s natural resources and continue to make investments necessary to grow bio-based economy opportunities. Vilsack told House Ag members it’s critical to provide certainty through a balanced, sensible plan to stop the sequester that took effect on Friday and to pass a comprehensive Food, Farm and Jobs Bill. He believes the same tools that kept the rural economy resilient during an uncertain year will help rural America continue to drive the economy forward.
Souarce: NAFB news service