Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to Host Discussion in Iowa on Surging Demand for American Agricultural Exports PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by USDA Communications   
Wednesday, 13 June 2012 07:39

WASHINGTON, June 12, 2012–TODAY, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will speak to guests at the Partnership Arthur Davis Conference Center in downtown Des Moines, Iowa, about how the continuing demand for American food and agricultural products abroad has led to the three best consecutive years for U.S. farm exports in our nation’s history. Vilsack will also highlight a report released earlier today by the White House Rural Council and the U.S. Department of Agriculture which notes progress that has been made in the agricultural economy and details steps the Obama Administration has taken to help strengthen the farm economy and support jobs in rural America.


U.S. agriculture continues to be a bright spot in America's economy and a driving force behind export growth, job creation, and our nation's competitiveness. Under the Obama Administration, U.S. agriculture accounts for 1 in 12 American jobs, provides American consumers with 83 percent of the food we consume, ensures the Americans spend less of their paychecks at the grocery store than most other countries, sustains a year-over-year trade surplus, supports record incomes for farm families in rural parts of our country, and is helping to support local and regional food systems as well as renewable energy markets. Just a few weeks ago, USDA forecast 2012 farm exports to reach the second highest level on record, after 2011, making the past three years the strongest collective performance in our nation’s history.


Iowa’s agricultural export success has played a major role in this American success story. Last year, Iowa exported a record $7 billion in agricultural products. Thus far in 2012, Iowa’s farm exports show a 15-percent gain over last year’s record total. Overall, Iowa’s farm exports support the state’s strong employment rate (Iowa’s unemployment rate through April was 5.1%) and nearly 60,000 jobs on and off the farm.


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

1:30-2:30 p.m. CDT


WHAT: Remarks by Agriculture Secretary Vilsack on how U.S. agricultural exports are a bright spot in the American economy, and a strong agricultural industry has helped bolster Iowa’s economy.


WHERE: Des Moines Partnership's Arthur Davis Conference Room

700 Locust St., Suite 100

Des Moines, Iowa 50309


RSVP: Credentialed members of the media may attend the briefing.



Rural People Should Not Be Forgotten by the Farm Bill PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Elisha Smith   
Tuesday, 12 June 2012 07:31

By Chuck Hassebrook, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , Center for Rural Affairs

Small towns and the people who live in them are forgotten by the proposed new farm bill developed by the Senate Agriculture Committee.  It would be the first farm bill in decades to invest no funds in rural development.

But help may be on the way.  Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) is developing an amendment to change that.  It will likely be offered this week or next as the farm bill is debated by the full Senate.   Last week, 185 rural leaders and organizations from across the nation sent a letter to every U.S. Senator urging them to work with Senator Brown in securing farm bill investment in rural development.

Since, 2003, the federal investment in rural development has been cut by one-third, even as overall federal spending has grown.  Without farm bill funding, the Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program will wither, denying loans, training and business plan assistance for rural enterprises with up to ten employees.

Grants will be fewer for farmers and ranchers launching innovative value added enterprises. Training and other assistance will be cut in half for beginning farmers and ranchers seeking a place on the land and in our communities. The $3 billion waiting list will lengthen for small towns in need of federal help with critical water and sewer upgrades.

Ordinary rural people can’t hire a bevy of high paid lobbyists. That makes it all the more critical that our Senators hear directly from us.  Rural people and communities should not be forgotten by the farm bill.

Agriculture Secretary Vilsack to Visit Iowa; Discuss the Food, Farm and Jobs Bill PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by USDA Communications   
Monday, 11 June 2012 08:51

WASHINGTON, June 11, 2012 – TODAY, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will travel to Iowa to highlight how agriculture is helping to create jobs and grow the economy.  He will also discuss the Food, Farm, and Jobs Bill.


Monday, June 11, 2012

10:45 a.m. CDT

WHAT: Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will highlight the success of the agriculture economy and discuss the Food, Farm and Jobs Bill.


WHERE: Hurtsville Interpretive Center

18670 63rd St

Maquoketa, IA


3 p.m. CDT


WHAT: Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will highlight the success of the agriculture economy and discuss the Food, Farm and Jobs Bill.

WHERE: Kirkwood Community College

Iowa Hall (Rooms A, B, C, and D)

6301 Kirkwood Blvd SW

Cedar Rapids, IA

Braley Joins USDA Secretary Vilsack to Discuss Food, Farm and Jobs Bill in Maquoketa and Cedar Rapids PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Jeff Giertz   
Monday, 11 June 2012 08:22

Senate took first steps toward Farm Bill passage this week; Braley and Vilsack seek feedback from Iowans  


Washington, DC – On Monday, June 11th, 2012, Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) will join US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack for a pair of listening sessions in Maquoketa and Cedar Rapids focused on the Food, Farm and Jobs Bill pending before Congress.


Just this week, the US Senate took the first steps toward passing the Food, Farm and Jobs Bill.


For past month, Braley has hosted listening sessions on the Food, Farm and Jobs Bill in communities across eastern Iowa, including in Grinnell, Independence, Manchester, Marengo, Marshalltown, Strawberry Point, Toledo, and Vinton.


Monday’s events are free and open to the public.


Monday June 11th, 2012


10:45am               Maquoketa Food, Farm and Jobs Bill Listening Session

Huntsville Interpretive Center

18670 63rd St.

Maquoketa, Iowa


3:00pm                 Cedar Rapids Food, Farm and Jobs Bill Listening Session

Kirkwood Community College

Iowa Hall (Rooms A, B, C and D)

6301 Kirkwood Blvd. SW

Cedar Rapids, Iowa


# # #

Grassley floor statement at the beginning of the farm bill debate PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Grassley Press   
Monday, 11 June 2012 08:13

Mr. President – As I grew up on my family's farm outside of New Hartford, Iowa, where I still live today, I grew to appreciate what it meant to be a farmer.  The dictionary defines a farmer as "a person who cultivates land or crops or raises animals".  But that definition doesn't come close to fully describing what a farmer is.

Being a farmer means someone willing to help a cow deliver her calf in the middle of the night, when its five degrees outside.  A farmer is someone willing to put all their earthly possessions at risk just to put a bunch of seeds in the ground, and hope that those seeds get rain at just the right time.

Farmers work hard cultivating their crops, and get the satisfaction of seeing the result of their hard work at the end of each crop season.  They take great pride in knowing they are feeding this nation and world.  And farmers tend to be people who relish the independence that comes with their chosen profession.  They are people with dirt under their fingernails.  They work long hours.  And often are underappreciated for what they do to put food on American dinner tables.  And they receive an ever shrinking share of the food dollar.

Farmers have chosen a line of work that comes with risk, risk that is inherent and often out of farmers’ control.  The risk inherent in farming is why we have a farm program.  If we want a stable food supply in this country, we need farmers who are able to produce it.  When they are hit by floods, droughts, natural disasters, wild market swings, or unfair international barriers to their products, farmers need the support to make it through.  Most farmers I know wish there wasn’t the need for a government safety-net, but they appreciate that it’s there when they do need it.

And for decade after decade, congress has maintained farm programs because the American people understand the necessity of providing a safety net for those providing our food.  That’s not to say each and every farm program ever created needs to continue.  Just as there are shifts in the market, sometimes public sentiment towards certain farm programs shifts.  Take direct payments for instance.  There was a time and place for direct payments, to help farmers through some lean years.  But now, times are okay in the agriculture industry, and the American people have rightly decided it is time for direct payments to end.  The Senate Committee has responded, and we have proposed eliminating the direct payment program.  And many farmers agree direct payments should go away.

There are other reforms the American taxpayers want to see.  There is no reason the federal government should be subsidizing big farmers to get even bigger.  People are tired of reading reports about the largest ten percent of farmers receiving nearly 70 percent of agriculture subsidies.  And you know what, most farmers agree with that as well.  Many farmers understand that in order for us to have a farm program that is defensible and justifiable, it needs to be a program designed to help the small and medium-size farmers who actually need assistance getting through rough patches out of their control.  The Senate Agriculture committee listened, and placed a payment limit of $50,000 per individual in this bill, $100,000 for married couples, for the payments under the Agricultural Risk Coverage program.

Taxpayers are equally tired of reading reports about how so many non-farmers receive farm payments.  I have been working to get reforms in farm payment eligibility for years.  And just as the tide has turned on the status quo for direct payments, the tide has turned on payment eligibility.  This bill contains crucial reform to the “actively engaged” requirements.  These reforms will ensure farm payments go to actual farmers.  The American people are not going to stand idly by anymore and watch farm payments head out the door to people who don’t really farm.

There have been some people complaining about the payment limit reforms.  They complain that it will detrimentally change the way some farm operations do things.  Well, if they mean it won’t allow non-farmers to skirt around payment eligibility, and line their pockets with taxpayer money meant for actual farmers, then yes, these reforms will impact those farming operations.  But let me make it perfectly clear, the reforms contained in this bill will not impact a farmer’s ability to receive farm payments.  Furthermore, the reforms will not affect the spouse rule.

These reforms reflect what we hear from the grassroots - which is congress needs to be better stewards of taxpayer dollars.  That’s true if we are talking about the farm program, or any other federal program.  Those who are against these reforms, are asking the American people to accept the status quo, and continue to watch as farm payments go to mega-farms and non-farmers.  We cannot, and will not accept the status quo.

The Agriculture Committee should be proud of the improvements we are making to payment limitations in this bill.  With these reforms, we bring defensibility and integrity to this farm bill.  In fact, without these reforms to the farm program, I wouldn’t be able to support this bill.  I urge my colleagues to voice their support for these important payment limit provisions, and join with me in resisting any attempt to weaken these reforms.

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