February 7, 2014
Today on the campus of Michigan State University, President Obama signed the new five-year farm bill into law. He was joined at the signing ceremony by Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman (and MSU alumnus) Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.
In a speech before signing the bill, the President mentioned that the farm bill is more than just a farm bill, saying “it’s a jobs bill.. it’s an innovation bill, it’s a research bill, it’s a conservation bill…its like a Swiss army knife…it multitasks.”
The bill will be widely referred to as the 2014 Farm Bill, though its formal name is the Agriculture Act of 2014. In juxtaposition to the President’s comments, it will be only the third farm bill (1970, 1996, and 2014) since the 1950s without other key terms (food, rural, conservation, etc.) in its formal title.
Concurrent with the President signing the farm bill into law, the White House announced a new “Made in Rural America” investment and export initiative. The White House Rural Council, which is led by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, will coordinate the initiative.
In the President’s comments at the bill signing, he noted how important the farm bill is to lifting up rural communities. The bill itself, however, designates only two one hundredths of one percent of total farm bill spending to the bill’s Rural Development title.
While the new Made in Rural America initiative has a strong focus on growing exports, it also aims to build investments in rural economies, including through the development of local and regional food systems.
This goal is also a top priority for Secretary Vilsack, who has tapped into programs such as Value-Added Producer Grants and the Rural Microenterprise Assistance Program to help farmers and rural communities build businesses, aggregate their products, and connect to markets. Our hope is that the White House Rural Council continues to build upon the success of these critical rural development programs and will help lead the charge for enhanced investment in these highly successful, job-creating programs.
Categories: Farm Bill