Rural America Remains Relevant

Udi Lazimy's picture

USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a recent speech that rural America is “becoming less and less relevant” in agricultural politics.  While we agree that the USDA and farm legislators need a more “proactive message, not a reactive message,” as Vilsak pointed out, the reason we don’t have farm legislation for the upcoming 5 years is because it is precisely farm-state, rural legislators who are standing in the way. 

Organic farming and beginner farmer support programs, organic research funding, and all the other great programs that are stalled in the squabble over the farm bill are, in fact, proactive approaches to improving agriculture and making the rural voice stronger and sustainably relevant. It is the leadership of the House that hasn’t given these programs a chance to get to the president’s desk, namely House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA). But these folks don’t represent urban interests. Both represent rural, blue-collar, working-class districts. And both are putting special interests ahead of the needs of America’s farmers. 
Key to a proactive rural agenda is investment in research. In a time when the White House says that agricultural research is sorely lacking (according to this report), the time to invest in organic farming is NOW. Organic farming directly addresses all 7 of the report’s cited challenges to agriculture, and both rural and urban America benefit from policies that support organic farmers thriving in the marketplace.  
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