Ag Secretary, Tom Vilsack has confirmed he will keep his position at USDA. During his time so far as Ag Secretary, Vilsack says he could list many accomplishments he is proud of, but his greatest disappointment is that there’s no new five-year farm bill.
He says it’s important to convince Congress to pass a farm bill this year with the drought and looming sequester as important reasons for a farm bill to be passed quickly. While there is a farm bill extension to work with Vilsack says USDA will allow farmers to opt in or opt out of the Average Crop Revenue Election program.
The 2008 Farm Bill stipulated farmers who signed up for ACRE had to stay in the program for five years, but Vilsack says there will be flexibility regarding that stipulation. The extension also allows another round of $4.9 billion in direct payments to crop farmers. Vilsack says USDA will make those payments next fall, but he is uncertain the program will still be in place at that time. Ultimately, Vilsack says the ag industry needs a five-year farm bill and needs it now.