USDA Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack held a press call yesterday to discuss President Obama’s last State of the Union (SOTU) address. Vilsack, who has served in the capacity of Ag Secretary throughout Obama’s Administration, was in attendance during the speech. He said he is very proud to have been part of an administration that has basically taken the country from a brink of an economic collapse to where we are today. He noted that there is still a lot of work to do and one way change will continue is through what President Obama termed the “innovation economy”.
Part of the strategy of the innovation economy, said Vilsack, is to expand the country’s reach around the world as through programs such as the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). In the agricultural area, it would bring about a major boost to markets that today are a bit soft. The TPP allows an extension into the Asian market, which is a rapidly growing market. Vilsack noted that the country’s NPP is roughly 40 percent of the global GDP with 47 percent of the country’s current trade taking place in these countries.
“It’s an opportunity for us, not only to balance the influence of China, to enable the United States of America to write the rules, if you will, for future Asian trade based on high standards, that recognize the need to protect environments and labor, while also creating a science-based approach to sanitary and phytosanitary rules and regulations,” said Vilsack. He continued by saying it is also an opportunity for America to demonstrate global leadership. He also called on Congress to study the benefits of TPP, understand the benefits and take Congressional action.
In addition, Vilsack highlighted U.S. leadership in reducing the risks of climate change and noted the role agriculture is doing in doubling its reduction of emissions over the next 10 years. He anticipates U.S. agriculture will provide significant leadership in this area. Vilsack concluded his remarks by stressing the role USDA is playing in helping communities transition into new economies.
Listen to Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack’s SOTU press conference here: USDA Vilsack SOTO Presser