Ten reasons why Congress must act to pass a food, farm and jobs bill

Published 9:54 am Wednesday, July 3, 2013

By Tom Vilsack
US Secretary of Agriculture

Getting a food, farm and jobs bill passed this year is essential – and it can’t fall victim to politics as usual. Too much is at stake, and too many people lose out if Congress can’t act. Here are 10 good reasons why Congress must take action as soon as possible to achieve passage of a farm bill this year:

1. America’s farmers, ranchers and producers need certainty about the next five years of U.S. farm policy to continue the recent momentum of the U.S. agricultural economy and rising farm income.

2. Livestock producers need disaster assistance applied retroactively, in light of a long-term drought that has forced the liquidation of herds to the lowest level in decades.

3. Dairy producers need an effective support system that helps them to stem the decline in the number of U.S. dairy operations.

4. Farmers, landowners and forest owners need streamlined conservation programs that will make a more efficient and effective use of limited conservation funds, while building on record conservation efforts underway today.

5. Organic and specialty crop producers need renewed and expanded access to Farm Bill programs that have fueled the growth of a multibillion dollar industry in direct-to-consumer sales.

6. Researchers and students at Land Grant Universities need support to meet modern challenges in agriculture and carry out the innovation we need to sustainably increase agricultural production. A new, nonprofit research foundation provided by a food, farm and jobs bill could leverage millions of dollars of private sector funding to provide this assistance.

7. Job seekers in rural America need new and expanded investments in renewable energy, biofuel, and bio-based product manufacturing, all of which can create jobs in rural areas.

8. Beginning producers – including a growing number of veterans returning to the land – need technical assistance, credit and affordable crop insurance to get started and keep growing. This is especially important as we seek to reverse the rising average age of America’s farm population.

9. Producers and small business owners need a resolution of the Brazil cotton dispute that if left unsolved, threatens hundreds of millions of dollars annually in tariff penalties against U.S. agricultural products and other American-made goods.

10. And anyone who is concerned about the Federal deficit needs a food, farm and jobs bill that provides meaningful deficit reduction.

These all are good reasons why a food, farm and jobs bill can’t wait. Americans across the country are impacted by this important legislation, and Congress must achieve passage of a food, farm and jobs bill as soon as possible.