Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack spoke to Commodity Classic attendees in San Antonio, Texas, on Friday and thanked the farmers for their hard work. Whether for helping get a farm bill passed, or feeding the world, Vilsack offered much appreciation to the farmers across the U.S.
“We unfortunately in this country do not thank you all enough or as frequently as we should,” he said. “We are a food secure nation because of your hard work. Our families don't have to worry about where the next meal is coming from. You produce it. We don't have to worry about whether we have to rely on someone else for our food. Virtually everything we need to feed our families is grown and raised in this great country.”
Vislack was also very proud to come to Commodity Classic and talk about passage of a farm bill, rather than needing to pass a farm bill.
With the passage of the farm bill, Vilsack said the USDA has three responsibilities.
“We need to continue the profitability of large-scale commercial sized operations. We need to continue to promote programs and policies that will ensure that profitability will remain,” he said. “At the same time, we have the responsibility to preserve and expand mid-sized operations coming up with new ways to create income opportunities so folks don't necessarily have to give up the farm.”
Other key farm bill highlights include:
- Opportunity for promotion of biofuel products. “We think the world is ready for American biofuels,” says Vilsack.
- Opportunity for credit programs. “We will work by the end of the year to institute the beginning farm provisions of greater credit opportunities to make credit more easily available for beginning farmers,” he says.
- Make sure the market assistance loan program is ready and clarified.
- There is currently a record enrollment in conservation programs, “and we want to build on that record. we are already taking applications under EQIP and the Management Assistance Program.”
- The USDA is preparing to establish the educational and training materials that will be used to educate farmers and USDA field staff on new programs.
- Work will begin this summer to establish research foundation to allow an additional $400 million in ag research.
Vilsack closed his speech by commending farmers for the value system they instill in their children and families, and how that is perceived in the community. He also thanked them again for their work, noting that providing for our families has changed; that “over the course of that 50 to 100 year time frame, most of us have shifted that responsibility to somebody else, to a relatively small group of somebody else, to American farmers and ranchers.
“It is because of you, every person in this country that does something other than farming and ranching owes you an enormous debt of gratitude for the freedom that you’ve given them to pursue their dream, to make this country strong and diverse as it is.”