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U.S. needs fiscal certainty, ag secretary says

If Congress fails to act, thousands of Hoosier growers will face reduced direct payments and the public would be at a higher risk of foodborne illnesses because of fewer inspectors, the country’s top agriculture official said.U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack spoke with The Journal Gazette on Wednesday about how cuts created by the federal sequestration will affect Indiana farmers. He said much uncertainly exists, but the onus is clearly on lawmakers.

“Congress has to focus on its job,” he said in a telephone interview. “The country needs certainty. They need to make the tough decisions that they’ve already asked the department to do.”

Nationwide, about 700,000 jobs will be affected in some way, Vilsack said.

Allen County Farm Bureau President Roger Hadley said the sky isn’t falling.

“You have an administration that is playing the blame game and trying to get everybody excited by bringing out these worst-case scenarios,” he said.

For more on this story, see Thursday’s print edition of The Journal Gazette or visit www.journalgazette.net after 3 a.m. Thursday.

pwyche@jg.net

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