Vilsack encouraged by Stabenow farm bill proposal

The U.S. Ag Secretary says he’s optimistic about at least one farm bill proposal.

At an event on the Mississippi River last week, Tom Vilsack told Brownfield Senator Debbie Stabenow’s 94-page Senate framework is realistic.

“I think it’s very comprehensive.”  He says, “I think it’s well thought out. I think it’s a practical approach. I mean, we’re living in a constrained environment. It has to be doable. It has to be affordable and I think she has been able to do that.”

He says while practical, the Senate majority’s proposal includes some highly requested updates for farm programs, such as conservation and trade promotion.

Reference prices, by virtue of previous farm bills, will increase from the inflation factor.”  He says, “She’s also calling for additional reference price increases for a number of commodities.”

He also says, “She’s looked at ways in which crop insurance can be enhanced. She’s looked at ways in which we can encourage more young and beginning farmers to have an opportunity to actually get on the farm and stay on the farm. She’s looked at ways in which to enhance rural development, strong research title, a strong a forest title.”

As for the farm bill framework proposed in the House, Vilsack says…

“It was a four page outline and it really didn’t tell me much at all what he (Rep. G.T. Thompson) wants to do.”  He says, “I would hope that he would learn there’s no appetite for reductions in the SNAP program. I would hope that he understands that there’s little appetite for taking the conservation money and repurposing it.”

Vilsack says he believes a new farm bill can still be completed.

“Can it be done? Absolutely.”  He says, “Will it be done? I think it depends on the ability and willingness of everybody to be practical, to be thoughtful, to be innovative and to understand that we’re operating in a bit of a constrained environment.”

The current farm bill extension expires at the end of September.   

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