Vilsack pessimistic about Farm Bill prospects

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USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack on Wednesday said there is a "serious risk" the deeply-divided Congress will not complete work on a new five-year Farm Bill by year-end.

"There is a very serious risk that we might not get a farm bill done this year," Vilsack said in a speech to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

House Republicans and Senate Democrats remain deadlocked about how to best achieve major savings in farm programs, with debate centered on the level of crop subsidies and cuts to the food stamp program for needy Americans.

"We're going to encourage Congress to get this done," Vilsack told reporters after his speech.

TRADE RETALIATION

During his speech, Vilsack also told the U.S. business group that he was "deeply concerned" that the United States could face trade retaliation from Brazil if Congress does not reform the U.S. cotton program.

Brazil successfully challenged the program at the World Trade Organization several years ago and has withheld retaliation after negotiating a temporary agreement with the United States.

Vilsack said time was running out for the United States to come up with a permanent fix.


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