U.S. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack continues to beat the drum for Congress to pass a farm bill with a strong disaster component upon its return to Washington in September. He tells Brownfield Ag News, though, that the sticking point may be more than just the nutrition title of the House Ag Committee’s proposed farm bill.
“And the reason I say that,” Vilsack says, “Is because the Ryan budget that was proposed to the House would include $50 Billion in reductions in the crop insurance, commodity and conservation titles, which is twice what is being proposed in other versions.”
Vilsack says the proposed House budget would drastically cut SNAP and other nutrition programs compared with the $16.1 Billion in cuts proposed in the House Ag Farm Bill.
“Representative Ryan’s budget proposes $134 Billion reduction over 10 years,” Vilsack says, “So there are significant differences and I think that’s one of the problems in terms of getting the votes in the House. Precisely how deep are these cuts going to be?”
Vilsack says House leadership needs to get the bill on the board, “And I think they can do it and they should do it. Leader Cantor suggests his finger is on the pause button. Well, he can take it off the pause button. Let’s move it.”
Vilsack says the USDA’s announced purchases of pork, lamb, chicken and catfish for federal food assistance programs is their latest action to try and help livestock producers through the drought – and the market is responding as it should. Vilsack insists a full five-year farm bill is necessary to provide the certainty that all U.S. producers need.