The Secretary of Agriculture delivered a difficult message to a visiting National Farmers Union delegation. Stewart Doan reports:
Tom Vilsack had good and bad news for NFU members. First, the good news, ”We are experiencing across agriculture, generally, a record income year. From a nominal perspective we’ll have record farm income, if you take into account for inflation, it’s as good as the early-70s. We’re going to have a record year in exports, we’ll do about $135 billion in exports.”
The bad news, Vilsack said that USDA received 10% less funding in fiscal 2011 and he expects a similar cut in the year ahead, ”Particularly reductions in the things that we call ‘salary and expense items’. It funds and finances the offices that you all go to in your local communities that Farm Service Agency has, it funds our risk management efforts and crop insurance, it funds rural development efforts across the 50 states, it funds food safety. It funds all the things that matter to producers.”
The USDA chief pointed out these cuts will occur regardless of any deal cut by the special congressional committee to downsize the farm safety net.