The following information is a Web Extra from the pages of Farm Journal. It corresponds with the article "Vilsack Stacks Ag Issues." You can find the article in Farm Journal's Early Spring 2012 issue.
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack gave the keynote address at the 2012 Commodity Classic general session. Here are some additional thoughts and reactions that didn’t make it into the magazine.
More speech highlights.
- On ag’s importance to the U.S. economy: "As we look to rebuild the middle class in this country, one of the great opportunities of my lifetime, of your lifetime, is the bio-based economy."
- On the importance of research: "Why are you the most productive farmers and ranchers in the world? Because in the past, we have invested in research. We have to continue this investment. The one area we cannot afford to reduce our budget – in fact we need to increase our budget – is in the basic research that is going to assure you to be the most productive farmers today, tomorrow and for the foreseeable future."
- On looking to young farmers: "There is no reason why not to consider that just as important to the future of this country as engineers and scientists and teachers are, this country also needs a new generation of farmers."
- On politicizing immigration: "Immigration is another tough issue. It’s a tough issue because there are some who like to use it to divide us. There’s some who like to put ‘them’ and ‘us’ in different places."
- On biofuel: "I’d rather see the fuel come from the Midwest of my country than the Middle East of someone else’s country."
- On infrastructure: "When we have infrastructure projects, it sends a signal to the entire country about the confidence you have in the future. If you’re unwilling to invest in infrastructure and in the future, what kind of message does that send?"
Commodity group reactions to his speech.
- From NAWG CEO Dana Peterson: "We agree with Secretary Vilsack that Congress should "pass a Farm Bill and pass it now." We were also very appreciative of his comments about the importance of agriculture research and ensuring trade opportunities continue to grow for farmers. Overall, we were quite happy with the speech and pleased the Secretary could take the time to come to Nashville."
- From NSP Chairman Terry Swanson: "We couldn’t agree more with Secretary Vilsack’s call to pass a farm bill this year, and we stand unified with him to let Congress know the farm bill is a major priority for sorghum producers. He is a vocal proponent of crop insurance, which is our top priority, and we appreciate both his appearance at Commodity Classic and his leadership for this industry."
- From ASA President Steve Wellman: "I thought Vilsack’s speech was well-received. He touched on a lot of things that ASA also holds as high priorities, including passing the Farm Bill, renewable fuel growth and investing in research. Regarding CRP, the ASA supports conservation practices but tends to focus efforts more on working farm land."