Iowa Congressman Bruce Braley, a Democrat from Waterloo, and U.S. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack are both conducting events in the state to push for passage of the new farm bill. The two spoke to Radio Iowa via telephone today, and Braley says the bill could have a widespread impact on the nation’s economy.
“It has important implications for renewable energy programs, crop insurance, agricultural research and economic development,” Braley says, “and that’s why it could be the example of an important achievement that we could bring people together on, and then move on to some of the more difficult challenges we face.”
Vilsack says the ag economy has continued to be a good investment. “The reality is, every dollar that we spend in agriculture generates another two-dollars-do cents in the economy, there’s a rippling effect,”Vilsack says. “When farmers do well, they are able to buy farm machinery, which means somebody in Waterloo or somebody in Ankeny a John Deere factory is going to be employed or maybe have another hour or two added to their shift. There’s not question when we expand biofuel production, we’re expand job growth. Thirty-six billion gallons of biofuels is the target, and when we reach that target, there’s going to be a million additional people working in that field.”
Vilsack, the former Democrat governor of Iowa, says there is some resistance to the biofuels part of the bill. “There are some who want to eliminate our commitment to renewable energy, which is unfortunate. We have a very great opportunity with the Navy and the Department of Energy to come up with a new drop-in aviation fuel which will be an enormous new industry and a great opportunity for additional rural income,” Vilsack says.
“There are some who want to end that because they think the oil industry is more significant. We think it’s a compliment to the oil industry.” The addition of jobs to the economy is a key issue in this election year.
Braley is running for another term and will face an opponent who came close to knocking him off in the last election. He says there are some who might be hesitant to take a stand in an election year.
“I am concerned that the budget that was passed earlier is going to be an obstacle to some members of the House who aren’t looking at this in the same way that we’ve been talking about as a job-creator that’s going to put more revenue into the federal treasury, but is something that is a litmus test that they have to pass in order to go back to their voters in the fall,” Braley says.
He says he is urging leadership in the House to pass their version of the farm bill by August so it is ready when the Senate version passes, and they can quickly deal with any differences and pass the bill. Braley says that will show that congress can get something done on an important issue.