FEATURE – VILSACK TESTIFIES BEFORE SENATE AG COMMITTEE Print
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by USDA Communications   
Tuesday, 21 February 2012 08:54

 

INTRO:  A new Farm Bill and the President’s proposed budget were main topics at a recent Senate Agriculture Committee hearing where Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack testified. The USDA’s Bob Ellison has more. (1:49)

 

TESTIFYING BEFORE THE SENATE AGRICULTURE COMMITTEE, AGRICULTURE SECRETARY TOM VILSACK EMPHASIZED THE NEED FOR STREAMLINING AND FLEXIBILITY IN A NEW FARM BILL.

 

Tom Vilsack, Agriculture Secretary: As you consider the Farm Bill I hope that you’ll recognize the importance of streamlining the number of programs that we have, providing us the flexibility to be able to use these programs creatively and adjust them.

 

COMMITTEE CHAIRWOMAN SENATOR DEBBIE STABENOW AGREED CALLING THE FARM BILL A JOBS BILL WITH RURAL DEVELOPMENT AS A MAJOR COMPONENT.

 

Sen. Debbie Stabenow-Michigan (D): This can mean helping small towns build a safe drinking water system, or affordable broadband internet access, or it can be in the form of streamlined programs that are more accessible for the people who use them.

 

ON THE PRESIDENT’S BUDGET, SOME SENATORS QUESTIONED PROPOSED CUTS TO THE CROP INSURANCE PROGRAM.

 

Sen. Pat Roberts-Kansas (R): Madame Chairman this is the number one issue that we have heard about in every hearing that we’ve had in regard to what farmers need and what they rely on.

 

Vilsack: The president when he looked at the agricultural budget basically had to decide whether or not to focus on a balanced approach, an approach that basically took resources from farm programs, conservation programs and nutrition assistance programs. He opted not to take money from nutrition assistance programs. In the President’s view these insurance companies are perhaps in a better position to withstand these difficult times than the folks who are currently struggling with tight budgets and can’t afford to put enough food on the table for their families.

 

VILSACK ADDED THAT THE ADMINISTRATION IS COMMITTED TO A STRONG SAFETY NET FOR FARMERS.

 

Vilsack: We do recognize that part of that safety net is some process by which revenues can be protected during difficult times. The fiscal constraints that we’re working under will require us to modify existing programs to provide that safety net.

 

FOR THE U-S DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE I’M BOB ELLISON.