Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack made a stop at the Farm Science Review in London, Ohio on Tuesday. The Secretary talked as much about politics as he did policy. But the push for action by the House on a Farm Bill was at the top of his list. Many of the Indiana and Ohio producers who were walking the exhibit field were making plans for next year’s crop, but without the certainty of what — if any — farm programs there will be over the next 5 years. Vilsack said USDA would do what it could but, without a Farm Bill, there is little they can offer farmers, “We will continue to express concern for our livestock producers, our dairy producers, and our specialty crop producers who do not have the benefits of crop insurance.” He said passage of a new Farm Bill would provide relief to these sectors of agriculture hit hard by the drought.
Speaking with reporters, Vilsack said it is his belief that the lack of action by the House on a Farm Bill is not due to a lack of time or a lack of votes but is part of a larger political strategy, “There is a small group of folks who are intent on substantially reducing the commitment to rural America in order to fund other departments of government or fund tax cuts.” He went on to accuse Republican leaders of deliberately dragging their feet on a Farm Bill in order to implement this strategy of cutting $150 billion from farm and nutrition programs, “Why are we doing this? Why is it necessary to cut so deep in farm programs? Is it because we don’t want the defense department to make any cuts, or is it because we don’t want to raise taxes on folks who have made a great amount of money?” Vilsack maintains there is enough time and there are enough votes to pass a new Farm Bill.[audio:https://www.hoosieragtoday.com//wp-content/uploads//2012/09/fsrwraplong.mp3|titles=Vilsack speaks at FSR]