The US House of Representatives has failed to pass a new farm bill before existing legislation expires, leaving thousands of farming families “exposed”, according to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
The failure of the House of Representatives to table a vote on the farm bill before Sunday means that when the current bill (drafted in 2008) runs out, many agricultural programmes will revert to a previous ‘permanent’ legislation, while others will effectively disappear.
Vilsack pointed out that this would have put farming families at risk at a time when they are already struggling to cope with the effects of the severest drought since the 1930s.
In a statement, Vilsack said: “In a year that has brought its share of challenges to America’s farmers and ranchers, the House Republicans have added new uncertainty for rural America.
“US agriculture is fighting to maintain the tremendous momentum it has built over the past three years, but with natural disasters and other external forces threatening the livelihoods of our farmers and ranchers, certainty is more important than ever.
“Americans deserve a food, farm and jobs bill that reforms the safety net for producers in times of need, promotes the bio-based economy, conserves our natural resources, strengthens rural communities, promotes job growth in rural America, and supports food assistance to low-income families. Without the certainty of a multi-year bill, rural communities are being asked to shoulder undue burdens.”