Obama Nominee Gov. Tom Vilsack testifies before Senate Agriculture Committee
Washington, DC - Idaho Senator Mike Crapo is offering his support for President-elect Barack Obama's nominee for Agriculture Secretary. Citing Gov. Tom Vilsack's recognition of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's role in implementing the 2008 Farm Bill promptly and according to congressional intent, Crapo expressed interest in working with Secretary-designate Vilsack to tackle the challenges facing agriculture and rural communities. Crapo, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, met personally with Vilsack to discuss his nomination.
"With high input costs, tightening credit, and unstable prices, the work ahead to help rural America overcome these trials will be substantial," Crapo noted in a submitted statement. "Representing the State of Idaho, with diverse agriculture production, including dairy, beef, grains, sugar, and a wide array of specialty crops, I look forward to working with you and the other members of the Committee on this effort. We must make certain that proper resources are dedicated to implementing the specialty crop programs in the 2008 Farm Bill.
"During my time in the Senate, I have been honored to serve as both Chairman and Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Rural Revitalization, Conservation, Forestry and Credit. The programs under the jurisdiction of the Subcommittee are instrumental in assisting with rural job and business growth, promoting forest health, providing rural credit, and preserving our natural resources," Crapo added.
Crapo emphasized that rural economic needs go beyond production agriculture, to include infrastructure upgrades, environmental and energy improvements, and efforts to attract business to rural areas.
"The economic development of rural America is a goal we both share, and the economic success of rural communities is closely linked to access to certain basic infrastructure," Crapo added. "For example, the availability of clean, safe drinking water is a necessity for all communities, yet rural communities often struggle to fund water and wastewater projects. Through a program called Project SEARCH, I worked to ensure that small rural communities will have streamlined access to funding for water and wastewater projects, and I look forward to working with you to help make this program a success.
"As you know, as Secretary of Agriculture, you will be in charge of overseeing 193 million acres of national forests and grasslands. This is a tremendous responsibility given the challenges facing our national forestlands, including the continuing threat of devastating forest fires and bark beetle infestations. A century of fire suppression compounded with declining timber harvests have resulted in tremendous fuel loads and invasive species issues that now pose a danger to individuals, wildlife and water health. As a Senator from the Western United States, from a state where 73 percent of our timberlands are national forest lands, national forest management policies have a huge impact on the lives of Idahoans. I appreciate your recognition of these issues, and I look forward to working with you to effectively manage those forestlands," Crapo noted.
Finally, Crapo noted trade can be a critical factor in improving the rural economy. He said successful conclusions to World Trade Organization talks and support for legislation he has cosponsored opening trade and travel between the U.S. and Cuba have the potential to boost prices and sales of U.S. commodities.