Agriculture Secretary Asks Mayors to Push Farm Bill

Lost in the chaos of Congress's last-minute passage of legislation to avoid the fiscal cliff this month was the farm bill -- ever the undercard -- and the reality that the hodgepodge of food and agriculture provisions is still sitting on the U.S. House's proverbial desk, expired and needing reauthorization.
by | January 18, 2013

Lost in the chaos of Congress's last-minute passage of legislation to avoid the fiscal cliff this month was the farm bill -- ever the undercard -- and the reality that the hodgepodge of food and agriculture provisions is still sitting on the U.S. House's proverbial desk, expired and needing reauthorization.

So on Tuesday at the U.S. Conference of Mayors Winter Meeting in Washington, D.C., U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack asked mayors across the country to change that.

Saying it was "not just a farm bill, but a food bill and a jobs bill," Vilsack said he would be handing phone numbers and email addresses of congressional members out to any mayor who wanted them, so they could undertake a lobbying effort to get the bill reauthorized.

Governing already reported back in September, days before the bill expired on Sept. 30, about the various provisions and how they would be affected by expiration. The general answer? Not very much. Some pieces, like crop insurance, are permanently authorized. Others, like food stamps, have been ensured funding through a congressional continuing resolution, so the money won't be drying up any time soon.

But the longer the bill remains unauthorized, the bigger the risk that some of its programs could be disrupted. So Vilsack urged mayors to start filling up answering machines and email inboxes on the Hill to get it passed.

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