Vilsack calls President’s budget ROI for USDA

According to Tom Vilsack, the US Secretary of Agriculture, President Obama’s Fiscal Year 2015 Budget will be what Vilsack calls an R-O-I budget for the USDA. In a conference call to reporters Tuesday, Secretary Vilsack pointed out that the administration spending document is in the context of a challenging time for budgets, but he said there is a lot it will do.

“This budget will help to fund 40,000 loans, 85 percent of which will go to beginning farmers and socially disadvantaged farmers,” said Secretary Vilsack. “It obviously provides a continued commitment to crop insurance coverage of what will be estimated at $63 billion worth of crops, and it will assist and aid in the implementation of the farm bill safety net provisions.”

Vilsack further pointed out that the agency’s work will be done with a workforce that’s been reduced during his tenure from 103,000 staff years to 98,000 staff years. It forces the USDA to focus on reform and results, on creating opportunity and investing in innovation, said Vilsack.

“In fact, this budget will be somewhere between $400 million and $500 million less, on the discretionary side, than when I became secretary,” he said.

Compounding the budgetary challenge of implementing the 900-page farm bill, according to Vilsack, is the Ag Census, which indicates fewer farms, a shrinking number of mid-sized farms and an aging farm population.

AUDIO: Sec. Vilsack budget conference call (38 min. MP3)

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