Vilsack Says He’s Confident Congress Will ‘Get To Yes’ On The Farm Bill

Washington, DC — US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says as the USDA extends grants and loans for everything from broadband expansion to production of alternative crops, not all that spending has to be tucked into the Farm Bill.

Congress appears on track to release a first draft of the 2023 Farm Bill this fall, close to the September 30th expiration of the last Farm Bill. Vilsack says it’s always tough to put a Farm Bill together.

The current Farm Bill, approved in late 2018, has provided subsidies for crop insurance, but 75 percent of the spending in the Farm Bill has gone to federal food assistance programs. Some House Republicans want to tighten eligibility for food stamps, also known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP. Vilsack says the Biden Administration considers the issue to be resolved after new food stamp work requirements were included in last month’s budget deal that raised the federal government’s borrowing limit.

Vilsack says congress will have to find a way to permanently raise the pay for firefighters in the Forest Service, which is part of the USDA. The 2021 infrastructure bill provided a temporary fix, but Vilsack says in order to keep enough people on the payroll to fight wildfires, congress has to put more money into the Farm Bill for their pay.

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