The Biden Administration address future of farmers

Published: Sep. 18, 2023 at 1:30 PM EDT

WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - The Biden administration addressed hundreds of farmers on what they’re doing to keep them in business.

Secretary Tom Vilsak took the stage to discuss the efforts of the administration as well as what’s still needed.

“We have a lot to talk about and a lot to do here so, I’m going to get right to it,” said Vilsak.

He was among several other speaks from the National Farmer’s Union, in expressing where the farming industry currently is.

“Over the last decade, we’ve lost 17,000 dairy farms in the U.S. That’s just about 1/3 of all dairy farms in the country,” said one farmer.

Climate change, lack of job security and lack of food chain supply are just a few issues the average farmer of today faces. Many of them had an opportunity Monday, to address the Biden administration with those concerns.

“What about urban farmers, you all haven’t discussed how these proposals help the small urban farmer,” said one woman.

Secretary Vilsak addressed some of these rising concerns while assuring farmers of change; something that many say is overdue.

“Pandemic assistance payments for folks who suffered loss in 2020; those payments will be in this month,” said Vilsak. “The 2022 emergency relief payments - application and opening will occur sometime in October for folks to apply to those resources.”

Vilsak also spoke on advance equity at the department, bolstering the food chain supply and grow producer income but farmers from South Dakota, had a slightly different concern.

“Everyone knows where everything else comes from but no one knows where our food comes from,” said Doug Sombke, President of South Dakota’s Farmers Union.

Sombke told me the USDA’s origin labeling process needs to be changed.

“Right now a person could import meat from out of the country and once it gets here they can have it stamped USDA just because USDA looked at it but that doesn’t mean it’s grown here,” said Sombke.

The Farm bill is a massive piece of legislation that oversees how and what type of food is grown as well as nutrition. This bill is set to be updated this year.

“We have the right administration that wants to fix the problem,” said Scott Kolousdk, President of National Farmers Union. “We have high hopes that if policy makers can agree on a solution, something can finally happen.”

Congress has until the end of September until the current farm bill expires. However, lawmakers are now hinting that they hope to have a new farm bill in place by the end of 2023.