INDIANAPOLIS — US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack visited Indianapolis Thursday to speak at the FFA National Convention, months after Congress failed to pass the 2023 Farm Bill.
In an interview with FOX59/CBS4, Sec. Vilsack said that even with a new House Speaker at the helm he anticipates Congress will most likely not have enough time to get a new Farm Bill passed this year. He added that, if Congress does not extend the previous Farm Bill, US Agriculture could see “serious disruption” and “difficult consequences.”
“I expect and anticipate we’ll see an extension so that means that next year will be the key year,” Vilsack said.
Indiana Farm Bureau President Randy Kron said he also believes there will be a one-year extension of the previous Farm Bill even with new leadership in the House of Representatives.
”The Farm Bill is critical,” Kron said. ”I know the new speaker says they want to get a farm bill done this year, but to get it through the House and the Senate and signed, highly unlikely.”
Vilsack also said another top concern of his is getting more young people engaged in agriculture.
”In the last 40 years, you’d be surprised to know that we’ve lost 437,000 farms in this country, in large part because we don’t have the process and the programs to support mid-size operations,” Vilsack said.
However, Kron said the lack of a new Farm Bill is feeding into that problem.
”We talked about how you bring the next generation back to the farm, they have to have certainty, they’re not going to leave a job in town and come back to the farm and try to continue you know, farming if there’s uncertainty,” Kron said.
Vilsack also pointed out there are a number of other initiatives helping rural Hoosier communities. He said Indiana has received 15 grants through the Renewable Energy for America Program, and a $55 million loan to improve electricity for parts of the state.