Former Ag Department leaders discuss farm policy

Each of three former U.S. Secretaries of Agriculture has definite views on what bearing the election will have on eventual farm bill passage. Bob Bergland, who served in the Carter Administration, said there were no surprises in the election, but that may result in congressional gridlock.

“The Senate can take an action, it can go the House for consideration,” said Bergland, who headed the USDA from 1977 to 1981, “and the House of Representatives has to agree to something or nothing; and up until now it’s been nothing.”

Meanwhile, John Block, who served in the Reagan Cabinet from 1981 to 1986, said that the election resulted in nothing being changed in the balance of political power. He laments the fact that the U.S. Senate has yet to pass a budget.

“Any farm or family’s got to have a little idea of how much money they’re going to take in and how much money they’re going to spend, but the federal government, the biggest operation, the biggest corporation of all, hasn’t even had a budget,” said Block, “it’s indefensible.”

Clayton Yeutter, who headed the U.S. Department of Agriculture for George H. W. Bush, doubts the number of votes in the House necessary to pass a farm bill this year. He said, however, Congress will not leave farmers without a safety net.

“It’ll be a safety net based much more on crop insurance than anything else,” said Yeutter. “That’s a substantial change from the past, but at any rate, that will eventually happen.”

The three were in Kansas City at the invitation of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting, which met last week in Kansas City.

Bob Bergland; John Block; Clayton Yeutter (1 hr. 20 min. MP3)

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