Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack Challenges Governors to Invest in Rural Areas

Kelly McGowan reported in yesterday’s Des Moines Register that, “State and federal governments can do a better job of supporting rural America, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said Saturday.

“Leaders from across the nation discussed the current state and potential improvements to the agricultural sector during the National Governors Association’s summer meeting at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines.

“America produces the world’s safest, highest quality, and most affordable food, Vilsack said, but he and others had suggestions to foster future success in a changing agricultural economy. Those included supporting connections between farmers and consumers, teaching students about the field and encouraging trade worldwide.”

The Register article noted that, “[Iowa GOP Gov. Terry Branstad] introduced a panel, including Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds, Louisville, Ky.-based chef Edward Lee and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, a former Iowa governor and state senator. The panel talked about the importance of connecting farmers to buyers and encouraged governors to help facilitate that.”

Yesterday’s article added that, “Governors should invest in rural areas, Vilsack said, and work to change the ‘extraction economy’ practice of taking from rural America to supporting the areas as places for people to live, grow and raise families.

Vilsack said local and regional food systems are important, and challenged governors to work to have schools and other large institutions get food from local producers.

“‘The most pressing thing for us is to give small family farms access to retail outlets,’ Vilsack said.”

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