He’s been a regular fixture at Commodity Classic, with this year his fifth appearance at the annual gathering of corn, wheat, soybean and sorghum growers. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack’s message to those gathered in San Antonio at this morning’s general session was how thankful he is for many things.
“It is awfully nice to come here today to talk about the PASSAGE of a Farm Bill, as opposed the need for a Farm Bill,” adding that commodity groups, such as those gathered in front of him, made the new law a reality. Vilsack said we don’t thank farmers enough for the work they do, especially considering how vital they are in the food, energy and economic security America enjoys. In return, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is charged with making sure the implementation of the Farm Bill translates into hope for all farmers, old and new alike. “Our Farm Bill, which you helped pass, for me creates a hopeful set of opportunities and rewards, and will invest in innovation.”
Looking forward, Vilsack said they want to continue the new trend of more young farmers coming back to rural America, especially encouraging minorities, women and returning military veterans to take up what has become again a strong industry. He also outlined how USDA would approach some of the new programs in the Farm Bill and how his agency would provide knowledge and flexibility to producers so they can get the most out of it and manage risks responsibly.
During the session and in a separate news conference, Vilsack talked about the importance of biofuels made from American agricultural products and how those products should be marketed to the world. “We think the world is ready for American biofuel,” he said.
The Secretary concluded saying the rest of the country needs to better understand just how important farmers are and how their value system makes America stronger. He said because of the great responsibility our producers, who make up such a small percentage of the country, take in making sure there’s a safe and plentiful food supply allows everyone else to have more free time to pursue other opportunities, such as being a lawyer or a doctor or a plumber or anything else someone wants to become in this country.
“The great flexibility, the great freedom, the great liberty that we enjoy in this country to be whatever we want to be starts with a fact that we have a strong enough agriculture … it’s because of you.”
Secretary Vilsack at Commodity Classic
Transcript of speech
Vilsack Classic Press Conference
2014 Commodity Classic Photos