Farm bill for 2013 a high priority, says agriculture secretary

Educating more urban legislators will be a challenge, says Vilsack

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said he and his staff will administer the policies of the existing farm bill that was extended until September, but he vows to work hard to see that Congress doesn’t again put off the passage of a new farm bill.

“We didn’t get it done in 2012,” said Vilsack. “We’ve got to get it done in 2013. 2013 must be the year that we get a five-year program and that it has an adequate safety net for our producers, that it embraces conservation and encourages more trade, it does what we need to do to in terms of raising the awareness of important research that has to take place, and focusing on rural development and nutrition as well.”

With rural areas losing representation, power and influence, Vilsack said, “we have our work cut out” when it comes to passing such a bill. The secretary said a key job of his will be to educate Congress of agriculture and rural America’s impact on the rest of the nation.

Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., while not a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, said he was encouraged that an at least an extension was passed, but also expressed disappointment that the work the Senate committee did on the bill was not embraced by other members of Congress.

“I am committed to working toward passage of long-term farm policy that saves money and ensures that the U.S. maintains the safest, most reliable food supply in the world,” said Moran. “I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate as we address issues of great importance to Kansans.”