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Secretary’s Column: Why a Farm Bill Extension Won’t Work

In just a few days, Congress will come back to Washington, D.C. and Rural America is counting on passage of a comprehensive, multiyear Food, Farm and Jobs Bill as soon as possible.

In January, Congress extended some of the 2008 Farm Bill programs for nine months. This didn’t include important disaster assistance programs for farmers and ranchers. On September 30, many of these programs will expire, leaving producers and rural communities without a wide variety of Farm Bill programs.

While Congress has already extended these programs once, another extension of current law isn’t common sense and it won’t solve this challenge.

An extension won’t provide the certainty that has for so long been a cornerstone of the Farm Bill. It would deny farmers and ranchers the ability to plan their operation around a predictable, long-term farm safety net. For rural communities, it would provide little certainty with regard to economic development programs. It would set no long-term standards for conservation or renewable energy programs.

And failure to pass a comprehensive Food, Farm and Jobs Bill would do nothing to solve the Brazil cotton trade dispute. Left unresolved, this situation threatens producers and small businesses in America with hundreds of millions of dollars annually in tariff penalties against U.S. agriculture products and other American-made goods.

All of this uncertainty would diminish the positive impacts that Farm Bill programs have in rural America. Another extension would not accomplish the many important goals that would be achieved through passage of a comprehensive, long-term bill. In many respects, it would simply reward failure on the part of Congress.

However, Congress has the opportunity to tackle this challenge and get a comprehensive bill done for rural America. A multi-year Food, Farm and Jobs Bill would lend the certainty and predictability that producers and rural communities deserve. It would put our farmers and ranchers in a position to continue a period of strong growth and growing exports, while providing a leg up for rural communities and working families.

Rural America is counting on Congress to get their job done as soon as possible on a new Food, Farm and Jobs Bill – not another extension.

Note: This week, Secretary Vilsack helped launch a new social media campaign calling on Americans to share their stories about Farm Bill programs that are important in their communities. You can send stories on social media about how the Farm Bill affects your community using the hashtag #MyFarmBill.

For an audio version of this column, click here.

3 Responses to “Secretary’s Column: Why a Farm Bill Extension Won’t Work”

  1. Suzanne Reinman says:

    An extension of the current bill will be superior than passing the proposed bill which includes King Amendment, “an amendment introduced by Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) that threatens to undermine the progress that California and other states have made in ensuring farm animals are treated humanely.” This amendment is a dangerous addition that is a legislative setback for animals and consumers. It should be defeated.

  2. Lurlene Irvin, Ph.D. says:

    Farming is the fuel of the global economy. Without full support of the farm bill America faces dependence on the world for not only fuel for energy, but fuel to supply America’s households with a secure and sanitary food supply, to provide animals a clean and humane eco-system, and the fuel for a healthy and productive work force. An extension is better than nothing, but why settle for just “okay” when Americans deserve so much better.

  3. John says:

    I believe one of the threats to farms is urban sprawl which is consuming many of America’s most productive farmland. The attitiude that we have plenty of land needs to go away, as we can not make more land and as the population continues to grow, we need more land to grow the food that feeds them. I have seen too much wasteful development, for example, building a brand new mall or mega-discount store on 100 acres of productive farmland while another mall or store sits vacant 2 miles down the road. I would also extend this need to conserve land in the non prime farmland areas, as steep forested land or wetlands provide benefits to quality of life, etc.

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