Farm Policy Roundup – July 5, 2013

Rancher with lassoTell Congress to Pass the Farm Bill

Congress is in recess this week to observe the July 4th holiday. Now more than ever, your support is needed for Congress to finish their work on the farm bill.  American Farmland Trust joined this week with532 national, state and local organizations  in a letter calling for Congress to pass a comprehensive, unified, five-year farm bill reauthorization when lawmakers return to Washington, D.C. Please send your letter to your representative today and join the call to pass the farm bill.

What is at stake if Congress does not finish the farm bill:

  • Reauthorization of streamlined and refocused conservation title programs, including $2.2 billion over the next five years for farmland conservation.
  • An historic opportunity to reform crop insurance by relinking conservation compliance to premium subsidies.
  • Reinvestment of hundreds of millions of dollars in beginning farmer, local foods, farmers market and specialty crop programs.


Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack recently provided his views on 10 Reasons Why Congress Must Act to Pass a Food, Farm and Jobs Bill.

President Nominates Deputy Secretary, Undersecretary for Natural Resources and Environment

President Obama announced his nominations for two key posts at USDA, naming Krysta Harden for the position of Deputy Secretary of Agriculture and Robert Bonnie for the position of Undersecretary for Natural Resources and Environment.

Harden currently serves as Chief of Staff to Secretary Tom Vilsack and has also served as Assistant Secretary for Congressional Relations. Before joining the administration, she served as Chief Executive Officer of the National Association of Conservation Districts, represented the American Soybean Association, and worked in a variety of positions on Capitol Hill including subcommittee staff director on the House Agriculture Committee.

Bonnie currently serves as a senior policy advisor at USDA. Prior to serving in the administration, he served as Vice President of Land Conservation and Wildlife for the Environmental Defense Fund and as Managing Director of the Center for Conservation Incentives.

Both nominations require Senate confirmation. The Senate Agriculture Committee may begin that process as early as mid-July.

Looking Ahead

The House of Representatives will begin consideration of fiscal year 2014 agriculture appropriations when it returns following the July 4 recess.  American Farmland Trust is working to ensure farmland conservation programs and technical assistance remain top priorities as Congress approves agricultural spending.

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  • Random Quote

    Simply put, conservation and farmland protection are at a crossroads. Land and healthy soil are the strategic resources critical to our nation’s ability to feed itself and to secure our nation’s future. Conservation programs are vital to maintaining those resources. — Jon Scholl, President, American Farmland Trust