U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack on Jan. 18 gathered some three dozen Department of Agriculture staff to discuss the future of U.S. agriculture and upcoming farm bill talks. According to a Politico report, Vilsack laid out a strategy to raise awareness about the USDA’s work in aiding rural communities and to garner support among both democratic and republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill.
Garnering bipartisan support will be necessary for any interested parties – including the USDA – to make any significant headway on their agendas in the upcoming farm bill, as the Biden administration and congressional democrats face a GOP-majority House. The effects and optics of a new farm bill could go a long way in determining the outcome of the 2024 election.
According to sources, Vilsack voiced in the meeting his belief that there is plenty of room in U.S. agriculture for both large- and small-scale farm and ranch production, and a hallmark of his tenure has been pushing a variety of programs aimed at supporting small farmers. He urged the group of undersecretaries and other senior USDA officials to consider more ways the department can improve the lives of rural Americans and utilize the farm bill to communicate a vision of a thriving agriculture industry and rural economy across the country.