February 12, 2014

A new Farm Bill…finally.


The agriculture industry has been waiting for years. Literally. For the day a new Farm Bill – or the Agriculture Act of 2014, is signed into law. 

After several years of deliberations, multiple extensions, and countless hours of work, President Obama is signed the Agriculture Act of 2014 at Senate Ag Chair Debbie Stabenow’s alma mater, Michigan State University.

According to Brownfield news, Chairman Lucas says this has been a long time coming.  “I’ve told my committee members I feel much better now that it’s passed the House, it’s passed the Senate, and the President has signaled he’ll sign it,” he says.  “When you consider how much effort it took to get here and when you consider how difficult this process has been, I’m not sure I will sleep with both eyes closed until the dry ink copy of the bill gets to the National Archives for filing.”

Ahead of the bill’s signing, President Obama said the Agriculture Act of 2014 is a sign that Republicans and Democrats can come together in Washington and work together. “With this bill we break the cycle of short-sided, crisis driven partisan decision-making and actually get this stuff done,” he says.  “It’s a good sign.  And that’s the way you should expect Washington to work.”

Farm Bill. Jobs Bill. Conservation Bill. Food Bill.

Despite its name, the President reminds us the Farm Bill doesn’t just help farmers. “Secretary Vilsack calls it a jobs bill,” he says.  “An innovation bill.  An infrastructure bill.  A research bill. A conservation bill. It’s like a Swiss Army Knife.”

Now that the Farm Bill has been signed, it’s up to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to implement the programs.

To do that, Agriculture Secretary Vilsack says teams for each Farm Bill title have been put in place.

“We’ve asked those teams to identify the rules, regulations and guidelines that have to be adopted because of new or different modifications to existing programs,” said Vilsack.

The Secretary says another group will be responsible for prioritizing what needs to be done first.

“For example, it’s fairly obvious to me that we have to have the disaster assistance for livestock operators restored as quickly as possible because these folks have been waiting for a couple of years,” the Secretary said. “There’s a new dairy program, there’s obviously a revenue protection program, there are slight changes to crop insurance, and those things are obviously priorities.”

Listen to the audio interview with Vilsack from Brownfield, here.

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