“It is a quite severe situation if we do come up against that,” she said.
She told the WPPC attendees that agriculture has fared well in the Obama administration.
Net farm income in 2012 is projected to be a record $122 billion, up from $63 billion in 2009. Merrigan said farm debt is at historic lows and farm income is up, and the last four years have been the best years for agricultural exports on record.
Merrigan said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack recently announced $55 million in specialty crop block grants for 748 initiatives across the U.S., including proposals to boost local food production.
She also trumpeted the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Snack Program, which was funded by the USDA at $163 million this year to provide free fruits and vegetable snacks to kids in 7,100 schools.
“This is an investment in the health of our nation’s children, and it is making a positive difference,” she said.
Merrigan said updated school lunch standards significantly increase fruits and vegetable offered at lunch. Despite some controversy and push back, Merrigan said the USDA feels very strongly that the new standards are backed by science and that many schools are embracing them with enthusiasm.