Every five years, Congress passes a Farm Bill. It funds just about everything related to agriculture - including international trade, rural development, and crop payments to some farmers. U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says California's $37 billion agriculture industry benefits too - especially the state's fresh produce growers.
Vilsack: "When you consider the commodity purchases that we do through the United States Department of Agriculture - for school lunch programs, for food banks across the country - they are substantially focused on fruit and vegetable purchases. So that obviously benefits producers who are producing those fruits and vegetables."
Still, Vilsack acknowledges that debate over the federal deficit will likely mean less money for the 2012 Farm Bill than in previous years. And the secretary says direct payments to farmers will likely be reduced.
Listen to Ben's interview with Secretary Vilsack, where they discuss the Farm Bill, trade, food and nutrition programs and food safety: