After weeks of delay, the 2012 Farm Bill is moving through the legislative process again. Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow resumed hearings early in the year, followed by a series of field hearings by the House Agriculture Committee.

“Field hearings represent one of the best parts of writing the Farm Bill because it gives us a chance to see the countryside and visit with folks who are directly impacted by our policy decisions in Washington,” says House Agriculture Committee Chair Frank Lucas (R-OK).

Meanwhile, lawmakers are being prodded to action by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsak, who urges Congress to act on the Farm Bill this year. Vilsak also says this year’s Farm Bill might have to meet a higher standard than in years past.

“To attract and retain the next generation of farmers, we need to be far more creative in the crafting of this Farm Bill than we have been in past Farm Bills,” Vilsak told the Agricultural Outlook Forum. “We must make a commitment to the next generation of farmers, and we must make that commitment as important to the nation’s future as any other commitment we make to the future generations of scientists, engineers, or teachers, because, after all, nobody, nobody can do their job very well without food.”