Agricultural services are being proposed for the first time as part of a $200-billion farm subsidy package.
The move will make a significant dent in the nation’s $7-trillion-a-year farm sector.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a speech Tuesday that he is proposing $200bn in farm support, and the proposal would cover services that cover agricultural equipment, livestock, fertilizers, seed, pesticides, feed, seeds, and other inputs.
The USDA says it wants to support a broad range of products, from agribusiness to fruit and vegetable producers.
The new farm subsidies would be paid by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, but farmers and industry groups have expressed concerns that the plan could lead to less support for small producers.
“I think the main concern is that there will be fewer opportunities for farmers to buy into this new package,” says Paul Clements, president of the National Federation of Independent Grocers.
“It’s very difficult to be a farmer in the future when you don’t have the opportunity to buy in,” Clements adds.
Vilsack also plans to provide a $20 billion farm bill that will expand agricultural programs that would help farmers, ranchers, and others.
Agriculture secretary Tom Velsack speaks during a press briefing at the Department of Agriculture in Washington, DC, January 5, 2021.
The plan also would provide $2.5 billion for crop insurance to cover crop losses, and $1 billion for a new crop insurance program to help farmers pay for crop damage.
Vilsacks plan is a response to the growing concerns about crop losses caused by climate change and other natural disasters.
The White House has said the farm subsidy program would not be used to help feed hungry Americans, but the USDA has said it will provide assistance to people with financial hardships.
Trump has promised to boost food stamp spending.
Agra is a major supplier of corn to the U,D.C. market, and farmers in the region have long complained about the lack of a program that would provide food stamps for those who work in agribushc, or the rural communities.
Valsack said Tuesday that a new program that could help the agribustion sector will also help feed those who need to work in agriculture and ranchers.
“The food stamp program is a critical tool for the agri-business sector in the United States and is a key source of jobs for many farmers and rancher families,” Vilsak said.
Agribusier Paul Clesner of the Washington, D.C.-based American Farm Bureau Federation said he welcomed the proposal.
Clesner says the U can’t continue to rely on a few billionaires to bail out farmers.
“It’s a recipe for failure,” Clesener says.
“Farmers are not going to put in the work for free.”