Ag. Secretary Pushes Passing of Farm Bill


U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack is calling on members of Congress to pass the Farm Bill before it expires at the end of the month.

Secretary Vilsack says if the Farm Bill is not passed, the dairy industry could be in trouble. A USDA program that reimburses dairy producers when milk prices are low could end. Vilsack says the new Farm Bill could also expand drought relief. “Livestock producers and specialty crop producers who are looking for some assistance through the drought situation currently have no help coming from USDA, because we have no capacity or power to do so. With the passage of a Farm Bill we’d be able to revive the disaster programs.”

The Senate passed a version of the Farm Bill this summer, one that Vilsack favors. Another version passed the House’s Committee on Agriculture, but it was not debated on the floor. With Congress back in session, the Farm Bill has not yet appeared on the floor schedule.

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Wisconsin Republican Senator Ron Johnson voted against the Senate version in July, but not before adding an amendment that would split the Farm Bill in two: one dedicated to food assistance programs, the other focused on agriculture. He was unable to comment Monday.

Wisconsin Republican Congressman Reid Ribble sits on the House’s Committee on Agriculture. He did not respond to an interview request as of Monady evening.

The current Farm Bill could be extended, but Vilsack says programs could be cut after the elections in November.