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Secretary's Column: Farm Bill Priorities

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Date:
Location: Unknown

On Monday, I laid out my priorities for the upcoming Farm Bill. This legislation addresses farming, but also deals with many important aspects of life in America. It's about supporting the jobs of the future, it's about keeping pace with the changing needs of agriculture and rural America, and it's about providing a safe and ample food supply for the nation.

But it must begin with our responsibility to strengthen agriculture, a bright spot in today's economy.

As Congress writes the portion of the bill involving agriculture, the focus should be on three core principles that have shaped the success of the American farmer over generations: maintaining a strong safety net, supporting sustainable productivity and promoting vibrant markets.

The safety net for our farmers, ranchers and producers should protect them from devastating losses either from a natural disaster or a significant and unexpected decline in prices. It should provide assistance quickly, reflect the diversity of American agriculture and use resources wisely.

With investments in research and conservation, the Farm Bill should support America's producers -- the most productive in the world -- in their work to produce an affordable, quality product year after year.

The bill should continue to promote vibrant, fair and diverse markets for farmers of all types and sizes to sell their products at home and abroad.

But farmers aren't alone in the need for a safety net. The Farm Bill also helps folks struggling through tough times to put food on the table with the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program -- an important bridge to self-sufficiency for working families.

Finally, the Farm Bill legislation must address the needs of rural America. It should make USDA the best possible partner for businesses and Americans in rural communities looking to create jobs and provide a better life for their families. It should continue to support efforts to develop a renewable energy industry that will improve incomes for farmers, drive rural economic growth and increase our national security.

The Farm Bill is about the future. It should build on the success of the agricultural economy and help America prepare for the challenges and opportunities ahead. And if it sticks to these important priorities, we'll help move our nation and our economy forward by creating jobs, supporting working families, strengthening rural communities and building on the incredible success and productivity of American agriculture.


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