Censky chairing farm bill working group
Agriculture Deputy Secretary Steve Censky said today he is chairing a farm bill implementation working group and that Trump administration officials “will move as quickly and prudently as we can to implement it.”
At a Farm Foundation forum today, Censky noted that although President Donald Trump signed the farm bill on Dec. 20, the government shut down on De. 21 for 35 days. Farm bill implementation came to a halt because it was not an approved activity during the shutdown.
The only exception, he said, was the Natural Resources Conservation Service, which is now somewhat ahead of other agencies in implementation.
“You have heard of a Fitbit,” Censky said, referring to the popular digital fitness tracking device. “We have our own Fitbit — we call it a ‘farm bit.’ It is a farm bill implementation tracker that we have assigned out to all of the agencies.”
The tracker will include every provision in the farm bill and account for which agency should take the lead in implementing it and who is in charge, and will answer questions such as whether a new delegation of authority is needed, whether new regulations or rules will be needed, and the timelines of any rules.
Censky said that USDA officials would share the agency reports with the relevant congressional committees and the public.
Some provisions “are essentially self-implementing,” Censky said, while others need policy recommendations that will be taken to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to make sure they are being implemented “in line with his thinking.”
“We are very much excited” about implementing the new farm program provisions, Censky said, with the dairy program the top priority followed by the crop programs.
Dairy farmers will be eligible for the new dairy program starting Jan. 1, even though the program is not yet operational, he added.