“A funny thing happened on the way to a Senate Agriculture Committee farm bill hearing to review progress on implementation of the 2008 Farm Bill’s commodity, crop insurance, and disaster assistance programs. As the lead witness at the June 30 hearing, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack did not read a single word or convey a single idea from his prepared written remarks on the day’s subject at hand. Instead, he used the opportunity to launch into an eloquent plea to focus significant attention in the 2012 Farm Bill on new and beginning farmers.
According to Vilsack, when a group at the Department started thinking about the farm bill earlier this year, he realized there was no firm vision for the future among the people who were gathered. He told the Committee that part of his vision is to increase populations and incomes in rural America, to improve prosperity and economic development and begin to restore lost political clout. Moreover, the Secretary said that increasing small and mid-sized farming operations has to be a subset of that broader goal, and that in order to make headway on the subgoal, significant attention needs to be paid to the needs of young, new and beginning farmers…”
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