USDA's Vilsack Says It's Time for the Difficult Conversation About Rural America's FutureWed, 05 May 2010 4:29:22 CDT
Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack pushed back as he responded to those that called him out last week for not talking more about what the Administration wants to see when it comes to the Commodity Title in the next farm bill, whenever it is written. Oklahoma Congressman Frank Lucas had a lively exchange with the Secretary at the first hearing by the House Ag Committee looking ahead to the next farm bill that could be written as early as next year- if Congressional leaders decide to work on budget reconciliation. Click here for our story on that exchange between Lucas and Vilsack.
As he met with farm broadcasters at USDA in town for the annual Washington Watch festivities, Vilsack cut off a broadcaster as he asked the question about why no details on what the Administration wants to see changed in the farm price supports- saying everybody is talking about that- he wants the focus of the conversation to instead be about the Rural Economy- which he claims has been in decline for decades because we have not had the conversation and focus this direction.
Vilsack told reporters that a direct payment of a few thousand dollars was not going to help a farmer with a couple of hundred acres of farmland stay on the farm- but that access to a good paying job with benefits near his farm would give that producer the option of staying on the land, farming part-time and being part of Rural America. Otherwise, Vilsack says the guy moves to town and demands top dollar for cash rent for his land- making it just that much more difficult for a young farmer to be able to afford to cash flow that piece of ground and get started. The property ends up being rented by a neighbor already established and getting bigger, because of the economy of scale.
We have the Secretary's comments that reflect his "irritation" with the question and his passion in promoting this Administration priority as the House Ag Committee begins to consider elements of the 2012-2013 farm bill.
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