For the first time in at least a decade, a current U.S. Agriculture Secretary is visiting World Dairy Expo.
Tom Vilsack will hold a Town Hall meeting at 9:30 a.m. today in the Mendota wing of the Exhibition Center at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison, Wis.
Vilsack is expected to discuss USDA’s continuing efforts to assist farmers, ranchers and rural communities across the country. Among the topics certain to be discussed is the 2008 farm bill, which expired Sept. 30 without a new one to take its place. The event is open to the public, but space is limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis. The room where Vilsack speaks holds 400 people.
The Ag Secretary’s visit came as something of a surprise to Mark Clarke, general manager of World Dairy Expo.
“We’ve always invited the ag secretaries and other dignitaries at the state and federal levels,” says Clarke. “This time, they reached out to us.”
“Vilsack’s visit shows the importance and relevance of World Dairy Expo,” adds Clarke. “And it’s good that he realizes that dairy is an important part of agriculture. The Town Hall meeting shows that he serious about listening to the public. We’re excited to have him here.”
Contrary to some expectations, Vilsack’s visit means very little extra work for Clarke and his staff. “They [the government visitors] are very self-sufficient,” he says. “They travel with their own security. The Secret Service met with me last week, and I gave them the lay of the land. Vilsack’s security is not our responsibility, but we work closely with them.”
The event is not related to President Obama’s expected visit to Madison on Thursday, Clarke says.
More than 65,000 visitors from 90 countries are expected to attend Expo this week. In addition, 860 exhibitors and 2,400 head of show cattle will make appearances during the Oct. 2-Oct. 6 event.