Speaking at the annual meeting of the American Farm Bureau Federation on Monday - U.S. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack highlighted the unlimited potential of rural America. He also challenged rural Americans to embrace a proactive message that highlights this opportunity for the rest of the nation. The Secretary urged farmers and producers to take advantage of innovation, job creation partnerships and to share their story of a modern, innovating, inspiring rural America to new audiences. He said rural communities, organizations and leaders must reach new audiences to strengthen the understanding of the agricultural sector. Citing the recent failure of Congress to pass a comprehensive Food, Farm and Jobs Bill - Vilsack challenged rural America to ensure its voice is more clearly understood in Washington and around the country. He said USDA will continue taking new steps to help rural communities strengthen their economies - while providing a chance to regain population. He committed to doing all he can to work to secure the sort of comprehensive, long-term Food, Farm and Jobs Bill that will continue growing the rural economy.
According to Vilsack - rural America is leading innovation in the U.S. today. By harnessing the potential of that innovation - Vilsack said there is unlimited opportunity to grow the rural economy. He highlighted a number of ways in which USDA is working to create new markets for innovation. Vilsack said his goal at USDA in the coming years is to work to promote rural investment through research and collaboration. He said it’s important to create new ag products that provide a renewed opportunity for the next generation of American farmers. According to Vilsack - USDA is particularly focused on developing new foreign and domestic markets and promoting conservation and recreation in rural communities. He added there’s a need to continue strengthening the biobased economy.
During his remarks to Farm Bureau members - Vilsack set new goals for USDA. He promised the department would build on its successes since 2009 by establishing more local and regional markets and food hubs, assist additional companies in producing biobased products, establish additional conservation certainty agreements and take steps to strengthen ecosystem markets.