Secretary Vilsack Addresses Commodity Classic on Farm Bill ImplementationFri, 28 Feb 2014 15:32:59 CST
U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack addressed attendees at the Commodity Classic in San Antonio, Texas, Friday. Vilsack spoke mainly about the USDA's plans for 2014 and the ongoing implementation of the recently-adopted farm law.
"With the passage of the farm bill, it seems to me that at USDA we have three basic responsibilities. We need to continue the profitability of large-scale commercial sized operations. We need to continue to promote programs and policies that will ensure that profitability will remain. Commercial size operations are important to this country and to our ability to continue to feed our people and the world's people. At the same time, we have the responsibility to preserve and expand mid-sized operations coming up with new ways to create income opportunities so folks don't necessarily have to give up the farm. For me, that's extremely important and I know it is for you as well.
"And our final responsibility to assist smaller-sized operations, those that are our beginning farmers and ranchers, women, minorities, social disadvantaged, our returning Veterans who are interested in reconnecting with the land. We have a responsibility to enable them to start and stay in this business. "
Vilsack said one of his department's first actions under the new law will be to restore disaster assistance payments for livestock owners as soon as possible. He said applications for those who have suffered losses will be taken beginning April 15th.
" And we will work very hard shortly thereafter to make sure the resources are paid. We want to make sure that we keep as many operators in business as possible," he said.
Addressing the area of conservation, Vilsack said his department is already moving ahead quickly by currently accepting applications under EQIP and the Management Assistance Program.
"We expect and anticipate that by May 17 or around thereabouts, we will notify folks of whether or not their application has been accepted and those obligations beginning June 1. Our CSP applications are also being accepted and we expect notification around June 1, with obligations beginning sometime in late July or early August."
A large portion of the 2014 farm law revolved around crop programs and new decisions that producers will have to make regarding ARC and PLC. Vilsack said the USDA is taking a series of steps to be those programs off the ground. He said they are working to have the final program and regulations for both ARC and PLC in place by the fall of 2014. He said that farmers will be allowed to update their production histories during the summer and fall. He said he realizes decision deadlines may be difficult for wheat farmers to meet, so there are opt-out provisions for those who don't have sufficient information upon which to base their decisions.
He said the USDA will do everything it can to meet its obligations to make payments that are expected and due in 2014.
Click here for the full transcripts of Vilsack's remarks.
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