Vilsack Lays Out Priorities, Cancels Bush Administration CutsBy Daren Sukhram
Story Created: Jan 26, 2009 at 2:00 PM CST
Story Updated: Jan 26, 2009 at 7:04 PM CST
WASHINGTON - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced Monday he will extend the comment period for the 2008 Farm Bill Farm Program Payment Limitation and Payment Eligibility rulemaking process.
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Vilsack discussed his priorities as Secretary of Agriculture during a teleconference call today with agriculture and other reporters across the country and said that as part of the regulatory review process outlined by the White House and Office of Management and Budget (OMB), he is directing the Department to extend the comment period for the payment limits rule for an additional 60 days.
"Let's be clear - in no way is this move a signal that we will modify the rules for the 2009 crop year," Vilsack said. "Sign up has begun and it's important that clear and consistent rules remain in place so that producers can prepare for the crop year and manage their risk appropriately."
To date, USDA has only received seven comments on the payment limits rule and Vilsack says that by extending the comment period additional farmers and other interested parties will have the opportunity to comment.
"In keeping with President Obama's recent pledge to make government more transparent, inclusive, and collaborative
, [Does that include the least bit of hearing that farmers have been SCREAMING that they literally can't survive NAIS?]
I would like to pursue an extended comment period so that more farmers and other individuals can participate in this rulemaking process
," [Does that include NAIS rule making? And if so, does "rule-making" including stopping "rule-making" such as NAIS, out right?]
he said. "I'm particularly interested in suggestions that would help the Department target payments to farmers who really need them and ensure that payments are not being provided to ineligible parties for future crop years."
Vilsack also announced that the Department does not plan to implement a proposal developed by the previous Administration that would have cut more than $3 million from the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, a popular program that promotes the growth of healthy fruits and vegetables.
Priorities Vilsack discussed with reporters include:
* Combating childhood obesity and enhancing health and nutrition, indicating that the Department should play a key role in the public health debate [Does that include wiping out small farmers raising clean and healthy grass fed animals through NAIS or USDA raids on farmers providing especially clean and nutritious food?]
and that nutrition programs should be seen as an opportunity to both alleviate hunger and prevent health care problems.
* Advancing research and development and pursuing opportunities to support the development of biofuels, wind power, and other renewable energy sources, saying that USDA needs to make sure that the biofuels industry has the necessary support to survive recent market challenges while promoting policies that will accelerate the development of next-generation biofuels that have the potential to significantly improve our energy independence.
* Making progress on major environmental challenges, including climate change. [Then, is he saying he is planning to get rid of petrochemical pesticides and fertilizers? He is planning to promote organic over GMOs DNA-designed to be linked to them? He is going to come out for organic farming and grass fed cattle which are both great for sequestering carbon over heavily fuel-dependent industrial agriculture?] Vilsack said it's important that farmers and ranchers play a role with USDA in efforts to promote incentives for management practices that provide clean air, clean water, and wildlife habitat, [It will be interesting to find out how what is buried in such nice words will be used against small farmers ....] and help farmers participate in markets that reward them for sequestering carbon and limiting greenhouse gas emissions. [Oh, that's great. He's getting rid of CAFOs? Turning fully to organic which automatically sequesters carbon?]
* Supporting the profitability of farmers and ranchers by providing a safety net [The absolute best (and totally free to tax payers) safety net would be stopping NAIS] that works for all of agriculture, including independent producers and local and organic agriculture, [How's he plan to do that when those people will be gone after NAIS and the seed contamination regulations under the FDA go into effect. The first makes keeping animals impossible and the second has already criminalized farmer's essential seed cleaning equipment this year. If he wants a safety net under rancher and farmers, and local and organic farming, get rid of NAIS and the FDA regulations that are literally taking away all means for farmers to farm.] and enforcing the Packers and Stockyards Act.
* Quickly implementing the 2008 Farm Bill; modernizing the food safety system
; [Watch out for that one. That's how they are destroying everything to do with small, local and organic farming. That's what the raids are based on, the elimination of seed cleaning equipment, the massive, massive, massive, and totalitarian over-regulation unto no-more-farmers. ] and investing in programs that alleviate hunger and suffering overseas [That is grotesquely hypocritical code for forcing genetic engineering and patented crops on Africa and India and others - a nice way to say "colonize" and make people abjectly dependent. Whereas, farmers are adamant they don't want such "alleviation" ]
and support long-term agriculture development
. [As we did in India where farmers are committing suicide at the rate of one every half hour thanks to "agriculture development" from the US?