Farmers Union members heard from U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack at a briefing Monday to discuss current USDA issues. The briefing marked the beginning of National Farmers Union's Fall Legislative Fly-In, where more than 200 members from across the country will meet with legislators and discuss the state of the current farm bill, which is set to expire on Sept. 30.
In his remarks to Farmers Union members, Vilsack urged Congress to act quickly in bringing a comprehensive, five-year bill to the U.S. House of Representatives floor and pass it into law this month. The House has only eight working days scheduled on the legislative calendar before the bill expires.
"There is no more important piece of legislation that any member of Congress can work on for rural America, for farmers, producers and ranchers than passage of a farm bill this month." said Vilsack.
"We would be remiss if we didn't strongly thank Secretary Vilsack for a lot of the work he's done. He's been out front and continues to argue for getting a farm bill done right now," said NFU President Roger Johnson.
Johnson encouraged Farmers Union members to address the current state of the farm bill in their meetings with legislators.
"We want a farm bill now. That's the message that you will be delivering at every one of the meetings you will be having on the Hill," Johnson told Farmers Union members in his opening remarks.
During the fly-in, Farmers Union members will also join hundreds of other farmers, legislative representatives and agricultural leaders for the "Farm Bill Now!" rally, to be held on U.S. Capitol grounds Sept. 12. The event is aimed to send a strong message to Congress to pass a new, comprehensive, five-year farm bill before current farm programs expire at the end of September.
Fly-in participants will hear from other USDA officials and White House officials, and visit every member of Congress during the three-day event.