NPR Story
10:56 am
Fri June 21, 2013

Agriculture Secretary Calls Defeat Of Farm Bill 'Unconscionable'

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — U.S. Department of Agriculture secretary, Tom Vilsack, calls the defeat of the Farm Bill in the House unconscionable.

The primary sparring point leading to the Farm Bill's failure in the House: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs, known sometimes as SNAP, and other times, food stamps.

Republicans sought nearly $20-million dollars in reductions to SNAP programs while Democrats rejected those cuts.

But during a stop in Albuquerque, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said failure to pass the bill wouldn't just mean cuts to social programs. It would also mean a loss of safety nets for farm, dairy and livestock producers. He says getting the bill passed is critical.

"I think it would start with being more reasonable about nutrition assistance and understand that you're not just cutting funding for struggling families, but you're also cutting farm income when you reduce SNAP by 20 million dollars," says Vilsack.

Vilsack hopes a version of the bill can get to President Obama's desk by the end of September, when many disaster, conservation, and block grant programs for producers come to an end.

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