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Secretary’s Column: Farm Bill Priorities

On Monday, I laid out my priorities for the upcoming Farm Bill.  This legislation addresses farming, but also deals with many important aspects of life in America.  It’s about supporting the jobs of the future, it’s about keeping pace with the changing needs of agriculture and rural America, and it’s about providing a safe and ample food supply for the nation.

But it must begin with our responsibility to strengthen agriculture, a bright spot in today’s economy.

As Congress writes the portion of the bill involving agriculture, the focus should be on three core principles that have shaped the success of the American farmer over generations: maintaining a strong safety net, supporting sustainable productivity and promoting vibrant markets.

The safety net for our farmers, ranchers and producers should protect them from devastating losses either from a natural disaster or a significant and unexpected decline in prices.  It should provide assistance quickly, reflect the diversity of American agriculture and use resources wisely.

With investments in research and conservation, the Farm Bill should support America’s producers – the most productive in the world – in their work to produce an affordable, quality product year after year.

The bill should continue to promote vibrant, fair and diverse markets for farmers of all types and sizes to sell their products at home and abroad.

But farmers aren’t alone in the need for a safety net.  The Farm Bill also helps folks struggling through tough times to put food on the table with the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – an important bridge to self-sufficiency for working families.

Finally, the Farm Bill legislation must address the needs of rural America.  It should make USDA the best possible partner for businesses and Americans in rural communities looking to create jobs and provide a better life for their families.  It should continue to support efforts to develop a renewable energy industry that will improve incomes for farmers, drive rural economic growth and increase our national security.

The Farm Bill is about the future.  It should build on the success of the agricultural economy and help America prepare for the challenges and opportunities ahead.  And if it sticks to these important priorities, we’ll help move our nation and our economy forward by creating jobs, supporting working families, strengthening rural communities and building on the incredible success and productivity of American agriculture.

You can find the audio version of the weekly message here.

4 Responses to “Secretary’s Column: Farm Bill Priorities”

  1. Megan says:

    Dear Secretary,

    Please remove or lower all subsidies to GMO farming and start to support organic farms instead (more). There is so much research out there now showing pesticides in newborns that can be tracked back to GMO food, the European Union has banned GMO foods, we’ve been fighting tooth and nail to even get them labelled! Please! Cut subsidies for GMO and pesticide growing and help farmers transition their fields to organic instead. Force GMOs to label their food so the American public can make an informed decision. And do not subsidize feedlots or give them environmental write offs or whatever. The way they treat those animals is disgusting. I’m sure you’ve seen a lot worse than I have, but we need to change the fact that 80%+ of our meat is controlled by 5 companies. That’s not food security. That’s easy targets. Please help the small farmer, and help the monoculture farmers to transition their farms into smaller diversified farms.

    Thanks!
    Megan

  2. DR. ROBERT KAMANSKY says:

    DREAR SECRETARY VILSAK, YOUR COMMENTS WILL BE USED IN MY http://WWW.SAWPA.ORG STAKEHOLDER MEETINGS ON OUR WATERSHED NEAR ONTARIO AND CHINO CALIFORNIA DISCUSSIONS IN OUR 2 YEAR WATER PLAN. WE HAVE SOME AGRICULTURE STOILL FUNCTIONING IN CHINO CALIFORNIA AND ORANGE COUNTY AND SAN BERNARDIBNO COUNTY WHERE OUR SAWPA WATERSHED IS LOCATED. THANKS, AS KNOWLEDGE IS POWER. CAPTAIN KAMANSKY

  3. maude says:

    A whole lot of information about nothing! How will this Bill effect Americans? Will it make things tougher for the small farmer and give more incentives to the large corporate farms? And what about the food stamp program, will it be cut? With more and more sickness coming from our food, will more restrictions be put on organic farmers? The only true healthy food comes from organic farms!!!!

  4. Nina P. says:

    Thank you for your support with the Farm Bill. I have read USDA priorities for the 2012 Farm Bill and I agree with the priorities. Particularly, the Bill should introduce a safety net to farmers who have lost crops in a natural disaster. This is especially important for rural farmers because they often do not have the expertise in applying for grant programs. I also agree that the bill should include funding for research that will focus on crop production and protection. This funding does not have to solely come from the Federal Government. I suggest that USDA research private companies that are willing to fund this level of research. We need private companies that truly have a passion to serve the population with fresh food and produce, and those that support organic/local food.

    That brings me to my next point. I agree with the other comments on this blog post. We need food reform, where we would give farmers incentives to grow food and raise animals organically (not relying on meat solely from corporations). This incentive can provide more local foods to the “98 percent” of people that you mentioned in your statement and ultimately improve our population’s health. If we had more systems in place to have farmers grow organically, I think that it will allow prices on organic foods to go down because the demand for these types of foods would go up.

    As far as funding for these types of incentives, I think there should be more resources allocating to individual states. I think this will help change the way farmers feel about not being able to attain competitive nation-wide grants. It will also allow the states to assist farmers that may not have the expertise in grant writing.

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