U.S. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack responded Friday to the action taken by the House and Senate Agriculture Committees to move toward passage of a five-year, comprehensive Food, Farm and Jobs Bill. He said the Senate bill would help revitalize the rural economy by supporting agricultural trade, local and regional food systems, renewable energy and biobased manufacturing. He says it would maintain a firm commitment to conservation while streamlining programs and linking crop insurance payments to the nation’s soil conservation and wetland protection goals. The Secretary added that he looks forward to working with the Senate to achieve significant deficit reduction by building on these reforms to farm programs. Secretary Vilsack has concerns about portions of the bill approved by the House Agriculture Committee – including significant cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. He said the administration strongly supports SNAP – a cornerstone of the nation’s food assistance safety net.
Vilsack said SNAP helps families put food on the table – while also benefitting farm and rural economies. He said these issues need to be resolved so Congress can achieve passage of a final bill without delay. According to Vilsack – USDA is committed to working with Congress to get the strongest bill possible for all Americans.