By finishing the farm bill, Congress can send a message to the rest of the country about the importance of rural America, according to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. Rural America, along with U.S. farm policy, provides the nation with more than food, Vilsack told Brownfield Ag News, during an interview on Wednesday.
“It’s also the main supplier of energy, it’s the main supplier of how we connect to one another through telecommunications, it’s the main supplier of jobs in the economy,” said Vilsack, “it plays a very important role.”
Vilsack says that by passing the farm bill, Congress has the capacity to send a reminder about rural America’s significance.
“If Congress fails to pass a farm bill in the remaining period of time it has in this year, it will send a message that rural America doesn’t matter or is not as relevant as I believe it is and deserves to be.”
When asked whether he thinks farm bill passage will happen before the close of the congressional session, Vilsack says he’s hopeful but concerned.
“I’m going to continue to be optimistic until there are no ticks left on the clock,” said Vilscack. “I just have to think that there’s enough bi-partisan will, and I think the message from the election is that people expect and want things to get done.”
Vilsack says it’s now mostly up to House Majority leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) and Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) whether the farm bill is acted on before the end of the year.