“America needs a farm bill, and we need it now,” said Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, speaking to a record breaking group of grain farmers at the Commodity Classic in Nashville, Tenn.

Sec. Vilsack elaborated that all Americans, not just U.S. farmers, need a farm program and that getting a viable program in place will further help agriculture to aid the recovery of the U.S. economy.

The former Iowa farmer and two-time governor of the state pointed the finger of delay straight at the U.S. Congress. “Saying budgets are tight and complaining about how hard it is to pass a farm bill won’t make it any easier next year, and we do not need an extension of the current farm bill,” Vilsack said.

In recognition of the 150th anniversary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Vilsack compared the congress that voted into law the DOA and today’s legislative body.

“A hundred and fifty years ago, in the midst of a civil war, the U.S. Congress passed legislation that created the USDA, established a transcontinental railroad, and provided hard to find funds to establish the Land-Grant system of universities that has paid so many dividends to U.S. citizens.”

“Today’s legislators need to quit pointing the finger of blame and the difficulty of our economic times and get things done. The legislature of 150 years ago passed legislation that provided an investment in the future of America, and our current legislators need to take a cue from their predecessors and get some things done in Washington, Vilsack said.

“In my farming days, when a combine broke down, we didn’t sit around and argue about whose fault it was. We figured out a way to fix it and got the combine back in the field,” he added.

“The first thing a new farm bill must include is a safety net for farmers. U.S. farmers, mostly in the Southwest, lost 55 million acres of farm production to weather related disasters last year. “Without an insurance program to get them from one crop to the next, some of these growers would be out of business. In our quest to provide food for future generations, in an ever increasingly over-populated world, we simply can’t afford to lose farmers to weather problems, he said.

Over the past three years the federal government guaranteed payment of over $30 billion in crop insurance claims. Still, the insurance concerns that made those payments made money, and even provided about a 10 percent positive return on tax dollars — that makes a strong case for a viable crop insurance program, Vilsack added.