The farm bill will contribute to domestic agriculture sector, its workforce, rural American communities, and families and businesses across the country, says a new report released Thursday by the White House Rural Council.
Though not necessarily a new statement, the report containing it includes 48 pages of White House priorities for the farm bill, along with data that quantifies the size and scope of many of the sectors the bill is expected to impact.
USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, in a press call discussing the report, said it will likely serve as "ammunition" to get the work done on a new farm bill. Legislators from the House and Senate began talks to agree on a joint version of the bill Oct. 30.
"This is a comprehensive and I think a compelling report that makes the argument on a multitude of levels why it's important for the rest of the country and for all of America to see Congress finish its work," Vilsack said.
The report lays out specific goals for a new farm bill, including: building on momentum of the ag industry and rising farm income; contributing rural communities and infrastructure; supporting the bioeconomy; protecting nutrition assistance; developing a farm safety net; enhancing conservation and clean energy; promoting markets at home and abroad; and promoting research.
Vilsack, who together with the Obama administration has previously outlined each of the goals during previous calls to action, touted the health of the ag sector as a linchpin in the call for a new bill.
"This report documents that there's a direct relationship between the agricultural economy and the rest of the economy," Vilsack said, noting that nearly 5% of GDP is tied in some way to what happens on the farm.
Additionally, the report points out that when adjusting for inflation, net farm income stands at its second-highest level since 1973, at $120 billion for 2013. Farm assets, too, are expected to rise 7.1% in 2013, as farmland values stay strong.