Feb 15 2012
WASHINGTON D.C. – U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack heard some of the top concerns of Arkansas agriculture producers during questioning from Senator John Boozman (R-AR) at a Senate Agriculture Committee hearing Wednesday.
Boozman reminded the Secretary that, as we move towards a Farm Bill, America needs a safety net that protects all crops in the diverse fabric of our nation’s supply of food and fiber, not a one-size-fits-all program that benefits one region over another. Driving home the message he hears from Arkansas agriculture producers, Boozman emphasized the need for risk management tools that work for Southern Agriculture, as well as the rest of the country.
Boozman questioned Secretary Vilsack about the bio-preferred markets program’s label of Certified Bio-Based Products that excludes many domestic forest products. This is a struggling industry with the elimination of nearly one in three forest industry in the past seven years. The bias against forest products in this program is bad policy that could cost jobs in Arkansas, if not fixed.
In January the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced consolidation of offices including 16 in Arkansas. This could require some agriculture producers in the state to travel further for the services they rely on. Boozman recognizes the need for savings, but reminded the Secretary that many Arkansans have taken the time to attend public meetings and provide constructive feedback, and requested that the Secretary take into consideration community input and reasonable suggestions before finalizing plans.
“Agriculture is an important industry in Arkansas. As a member of the committee with jurisdiction over this vital industry I will continue my commitment to bring the concerns I hear from Arkansas agriculture producers and be a voice for their interests in Congress,” Boozman said.