Secretary Vilsack made the following statement on congressional progress toward passage of a Food, Farm and Jobs Bill:
"I am encouraged that Congress took action this week toward passage of a five-year, comprehensive Food, Farm and Jobs Bill.
I appreciate the leadership of the Senate Agriculture Committee, in particular Chairwoman Stabenow and Senator Cochran, for their efforts in crafting bipartisan legislation. The bill would help revitalize the rural economy by supporting agricultural trade, local and regional food systems, renewable energy and biobased manufacturing. It would maintain a firm commitment to conservation while streamlining programs and linking crop insurance payments to the nation's soil conservation and wetland protection goals. USDA looks forward to working with the Senate to achieve significant deficit reduction by building on these reforms to farm programs.
I also appreciate efforts by Chairman Lucas and Congressman Peterson to pass a bill out of the House Agriculture Committee. I am deeply concerned about portions of the House version of the bill, including significant cuts that would deny struggling families and their children access to food assistance. The Administration strongly supports the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), a cornerstone of our Nation's food assistance safety net, which is why it was not subject to cuts in the President's Budget. SNAP helps families put food on the table, while also benefitting farm and rural economies. These issues need to be resolved so Congress can achieve passage of a final Food, Farm and Jobs Bill without delay. USDA remains committed to working with Congress to get the strongest bill possible for all Americans."