Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced continued progress during the first 90 days of implementing the Agricultural Act of 2014 (the 2014 Farm Bill), which President Obama signed into law on February 7. The 2014 Farm Bill reforms agricultural policy, reduces the deficit, and helps grow the economy.
"The new farm bill supports the proud men and women who feed hundreds of millions around the world, and supports critical economic development in rural America. USDA has made this bill's implementation a top priority," Vilsack said. "I am pleased to report that our department continues to make tremendous progress getting new initiatives off the ground and making important reforms to existing programs."
Since the Farm Bill was signed, USDA has made progress throughout all Farm Bill titles including announcements on trade and marketing promotion, the establishment of conservation programs, the initiation of specialty crop and local food programs, funding for rural development programs, and more.
Among the first major farm bill initiatives to be implemented were disaster relief programs for livestock producers, many of whom have been waiting years for assistance. On April 15, USDA announced disaster relief through the Livestock Indemnity Program and the Livestock Forage Disaster Program. After the 2008 Farm Bill passed, it took over one year to set up disaster assistance programs. In 2014, it took under 10 weeks. As of May 1, 2014, approximately 33,000 applications have been received and $16.3 million in payments has been disbursed.
In the coming months, producers will be asked to enroll in one of the new farm bill's risk management programs. USDA is now accepting applications from Land Grant Universities, 1890 Colleges, Hispanic-serving institutions and tribal colleges to create web-based tools that will help provide producers with information on the Agricultural Risk Coverage Program and Price Loss Coverage Program, as well as the larger protection program for dairy and the non-insured crop disaster assistance program.
More announcements on the new agriculture research foundation, educational tools for producers, improvements to conservation programs, and other Farm Bill provisions will continue to be made in the coming weeks and months.