At a luncheon on Monday in Washington, D.C., U.S. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack reaffirmed to our North American Ag Journalists group that American agriculture is very under-appreciated. And he urged us to help communicate the true story – particularly to “under-appreciators”.
Vilsack rightfully noted that American agriculture is the most abundant, prolific raw product provider to the world. We produce food, fiber and fuel, even chemical and pharmaceutical ingredients. We also provide jobs for millions of hard-working people here and for those coming to America.
And agriculture, as an industry, continued doing all that without losing an ounce of momentum through the Great Recession. It’s no coincidence that America’s most privately-owned industry is also its most economically resilient.
Then, in the next hour . . .
Next on our program was a learned gentleman, Scott Faber, the newly-minted vice president for governmental affairs for D.C.-based Environmental Working Group. Bent on achieving more regulations to save the environment and ensure food safety, he insists that agriculture is under-regulated and exempted from many clean air and water regulations. And he’s going to be a key, vocal mouth-piece in the creation of the 2012 Farm Bill
Looking only from a federal perspective, he fails to see that farms are also subject to whole tiers of state regulations as well. Maybe Mr. Faber has spent so much time in the halls of Congress and commiserating with other activists that he’s lost touch with reality.
But how do you tactfully communicate that reality in maybe two minutes to someone so “skewed up”. (Yes, I spelled it right.) The answer is: You can’t, not in a few minutes.
It takes time plus a real dialogue with real farmers who can speak with authority about how regulations continue to exact a growing cost to their businesses.
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