The Washington Insider section of DTN indicated yesterday (link requires subscription) that, “When Secretary Tom Vilsack appeared before the House Ag Committee’s first D.C. hearing on the 2012 farm bill recently, he didn’t attack farm program spending as some observers expected and as he had earlier. But he didn’t exactly come to discuss the traditional programs, either, or the problems they face or ways they might be improved. Instead, he focused broadly on all of rural America and described what he called severe problems there. And, he recommended a broad mix of agricultural, rural business and social programs in an effort to reverse the four-decade long negative trends he emphasized.
“Not only did he broaden the traditional USDA emphasis beyond agriculture, but he argued for something of a new agenda, defined by the need to work within a framework of ‘emerging ecosystem markets’ and integrate strategic rural development programs with ‘public and private sector considerations.’”