(NAFB)--According to the Hagstrom Report - Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack announced Wednesday his expectations the House will vote next week on Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s proposal to cut food stamps by 40-billion dollars over 10-years. Vilsack hopes the bill fails - but says once conference on a farm bill begins - he and other USDA officials will be prepared to provide help and assistance on any changes to the food stamp program. If a vote on the nutrition title does occur - Speaker John Boehner has said he will appoint farm bill conferees. NFU President Roger Johnson says the House needs to appoint conferees so the conference committee can begin to work to put the final pieces of a five-year, comprehensive bill together - which NFU wants to include nutrition programs, an adequate safety net, strong energy title and provisions for beginning farmer and rancher programs. House Ag Chair Frank Lucas has indicated he will vote for the Cantor measure - but he says to watch how it all sorts out in conference. Lucas says a bill has to be passed that the President will sign. Some - however - have discussed the possibility of another extension - which the National Farmers Union says is not an acceptable solution.
Vilsack also urges Congress to not change the Renewable Fuel Standard. If Congress changes the RFS and doesn’t pass a farm bill - he says its priorities will be reversed. Vilsack says USDA believes the RFS is working - and his personal opinion is the oil industry has been attacking the ethanol industry and the RFS because they want to buy ethanol production facilities for 10-cents on the dollar. Even if the RFS were repealed - Vilsack says oil companies would continue to need ethanol.