FarmPolicy

August 23, 2017

Sec. Vilsack at the National Press Club Yesterday

Joseph Morton reported today at the World-Herald Herald Online that, “The efficiency of modern American farming certainly looks like a success story.

“Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Monday that over the course of his lifetime, the country’s agricultural production has risen 170 percent — all while using 26 percent less land. But the production gains since he was born in 1950 also reduced the number of farmers needed.

“‘The challenge was that our country didn’t ask the question as we were becoming more efficient in production agriculture: What are we going to do with the 22 million families that are no longer farming?’ Vilsack said during an appearance at the National Press Club. ‘How can we create opportunities for them if they so desire to stay in their small community, in their rural area? How can we create job opportunities for their children and grandchildren?‘”

Mr. Morton noted that, “Vilsack’s session with reporters focused on expanding economic opportunities in rural America. He talked up the importance of trade exports, renewable energy sources and bio-based products from textiles to cleaning supplies.”

Today’s World-Herald item added that, “In particular, [Sec. Vilsack] talked about the need to continue supporting renewable fuels and the bio-based industry.

A new report says that industry contributes $393 billion to the economy, he said, adding that it has helped rural areas recover from the Great Recession by supporting 4.2 million jobs.”

And Christopher Doering reported yesterday at The Des Moines Register Online that, “Iowa is the nation’s No. 1 ethanol producer, but 27th when it comes to creating jobs from the manufacture of bio-based products. California leads the nation with 145,000 bio-based jobs.

“Nearly all of Iowa’s bio-based impact on the state’s economy came from forest products, at $1.5 billion. Smaller contributions came from bio-based chemicals and enzymes.”

Also yesterday, Jack Fitzpatrick reported at the Morning Consult Online that, “In addition to supporting biofuels, Vilsack said the federal government can help rural areas by investing in the community college system, improving high-speed broadband connection.”

The update added that, “Vilsack, who was seen as a possible running mate for Hillary Clinton, was cagey when asked about his political future, whether it includes serving as Clinton’s chief of staff or running for office in his home state of Iowa, where he previously served as governor. Vilsack did say he enjoyed executive positions more than when he served in the Iowa state Senate.

“‘Here’s what I know about myself. I’m an executive. I like to make decisions. I like to implement decisions,’ Vilsack said.”

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