Oct 22 - In a TV broadcast, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack comments on the South Dakota livestock disaster and the need for Congressional action on a budget, a new Farm Bill and comprehensive immigration reform. Here is an excerpt:
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says USDA Under Secretary Michael Scuse is going to South Dakota to get first hand information on the recent livestock disaster.
"Well we are going to be back in business and we understand itís a priority for us to focus on folks that are hurting so we are asking Michael Scuse to head out to South Dakota to convey a message that we understand that we appreciate the devastation that these storms have basically caused in livestock operations that we would love to be able to provide help and assistance. At this point all we can do is collect information, make sure that we have accurate information, so when and if the Congress reinstates the Livestock Disaster Assistance Programs, makes them retroactive to when they lapsed in 2011 we are in a position to provide help and assistance at some point in the future to allow folks to get through this tough time."
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says Congress needs to take action on a new USDA budget, a new Farm Bill and comprehensive immigration reform.
"We obviously have to have a budget, we have to have a budget that adequately finances the important work thatís being done here at USDA, and that needs to be recognized and underscored because again USDA has stepped forward. The folks at USDA have identified savings, theyíve been very committed to the Blueprint for Stronger Service, the administrative service project, and theyíve really identified hundreds of millions of dollars of savings. Theyíve done their job and itís a little bit of concern to them when they realize how much more important work they could do if they had their resources. So, the budget becomes important. They have to have the policies and the programs of the Farm Bill so that they can continue to provide credit, so that they can continue to expand economic opportunity, they can do a better job of conserving our natural resources, expanding market opportunities both here and abroad. All that important work tied to jobs, tied to incomes, tied to rural life and quality of life. So itís important to have a Farm Bill. And then of course, I think, we recognize in a unique way the challenge of comprehensive immigration reform and the lack of a workable immigration system and the impact that itís having on rural America and having on farming. So thereís a lot of important work that needs to be done and we have a role. We have an advocacy role, we have an education role, we have a technical assistance role in all of this. So Iím anxious to get back to work, Iím anxious to get back on the road to be able to explain to Americans what USDA does, why itís important, why itís important to invest in it, why we need a Farm Bill and why we need comprehensive immigration reform."
Click here to watch the video.