WASHINGTON, Sept. 10, 2012 – In one of his most strongly-worded attacks on the GOP leadership’s failure to schedule floor time to vote on a new farm bill, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told farmers attending the National Farmers Union’s annual fall fly-in that a farm bill needs to be passed now.

“There is no more important piece of legislation that any member of Congress can work on for rural America, for farmers, producers and ranchers than passage of a farm bill this month.” said Vilsack.

“Don’t tell me that can’t pass a farm bill in 8 days,” he said, referring to the number of days that the House is in session during the month of September. “That's just baloney.”

Vilsack told the farmers and ranchers who gathered in USDA’s Jefferson Auditorium today that they should not be confused by lawmakers who tell them that they just don’t have the votes to pass a new farm bill.

“Just put it up,” he emphasized, “You're telling me you don't have 218 votes? Put it up.”

Vilsack said that, without a new farm bill, farmers and ranchers won’t be able “to continue this extraordinary momentum we've built in farm country.”

The former Iowa governor blasted lawmakers who want to make further cuts in the food stamp program because there is a lot of fraud, waste and abuse.

“The fraud rate in this program is less than one percent and the error rate is also at historic lows,” Vilsack noted, while pointing out that every dollar spent on food stamps results in $1.83 in economic activity.

“The fraud rate of crop insurance is 2-3 times what it is in the food stamp program. No one ever talks about that,” Vilsack said.




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