As the next farm bill is crafted, it appears a shift from commodity programs to rural development will be a focus for the Obama administration.

Testifying before the House Agriculture Committee on Wednesday, USDA Secretary Tim Vilsack provided a set of five priorities for rural America: broadband access, renewable energy and bio-fuels, regional food systems and supply chains, forest restoration and private land conservation, and ecosystem market incentives.

Unsurprisingly, it didn’t take long for committee members to pounce.

“In your written testimony, under the heading ‘the importance and challenges of rural America and its future’ nowhere do you talk about the farmer or the safety net of production agriculture,” said an incredulous Oklahoma Rep. Frank Lucas, ranking member of the committee. “I worry that this is symbolic of an issue that’s becoming of much concern in the countryside. That is: does the (Obama) administration have a disconnect with rural America?

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