Vilsack optimistic about final farm bill passage in 2013

By Spencer Chase

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, June 10, 2013 - With the U.S. Senate expected to pass its version of a farm bill later today, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is optimistic that the farm bill might be finalized in 2013.

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On Thursday, the Senate passed a cloture motion that allows for final passage of S.954 on Monday evening. Meanwhile, the House is expected to bring their version of the legislation to the floor on June 17th according to House Ag Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson, D-Minn. Vilsack said he is pleased to see the bill moving so quickly. 

“We're excited about the strong bi-partisan support the bill in the Senate received on the cloture vote ... I think by Monday, we'll have the senate version of the Food, Farm, and Jobs Bill through the process,” Vilsack said. 

The Senate has traditionally been quicker on this legislation in the past two years than their House counterparts, but in an interview with Jeff Nalley, Vilsack seems to think this year will be different and the House will also bring a Farm Bill forward.

“Certainly good signs in the house,” Vilsack said. “(Ag Committee) Chairman (Frank) Lucas got it through the committee, and basically has received commitments from leaders to get floor time. Hopefully by the end of the month, we've got the House version of the Food Farm and Jobs bill and we can get a little time in conference and get differences worked out between the two bodies and get this bill signed before September 30th.” 

Even as both chambers work to pass their legislation, differences still exist between the two bills. With the farm bill carrying such a wide scope of programs, Vilsack said he's aware of the chance for legislation like this to get bogged down in the political process. 

“Everybody's got to drive their points, but I think at the end of the day, everybody understands and appreciates that you don't want the perfect to be the enemy of the good,” Vilsack said. “We need a farm bill. Everybody knows that, and I think that's ultimately what's going to drive folks to get consensus. We cannot have what we've been having for the last couple of years which is the uncertainty of not having a five year program.” 

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