Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says tens of thousands of farmers have fallen on hard times and need help now.
It was an unusually emotional moment for Secretary Vilsack, as he broke from script before the Senate Ag Appropriations panel.
“There are 61,670 farm families in America today that are on the brink. 61,670 farm families that are either delinquent in their loans to USDA, are bankrupt, or are pending foreclosure.”
For Vilsack, it’s personal; “I represented farmers during the 1980s, as a small town lawyer, I can tell you the pain, I can tell you the stress, I can tell you the decisions that folks make under these circumstances, I can tell you very tragic decisions that they make.”
His voice almost cracking, Vilsack urged Ag appropriators to help find ways to save these producers.
“And I sincerely hope that we can work collaboratively together in a bipartisan way, to make sure that they have a hopeful future, as opposed to one that is currently stress-filled today.
Made worse by today’s record-high gas, diesel, and fertilizer prices, as USDA looks into fertilizer costs. Vilsack; “To see what we could do here, in the United States to produce more fertilizer. We’re also working with producers on crop choice and conservation practices that could potentially reduce fertilizer use. We’re also focusing on a split nitrogen policy for crop insurance, that will basically cover crop losses if you decide to half your nitrogen application.”
And Vilsack says USDA’s working with state attorney generals to ensure fertilizer prices are legitimate, pointing to research that shows those prices rising with crop prices, something he complains shouldn’t happen.