Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack says a serious administration focus on trade issues is likely to be delayed until economic recovery measures are in place. Vilsack told members of the National Association of Wheat Growers and U.S. Wheat Associates that political realities will force significant changes both in the way he will run USDA and in the ways farmers will get paid.
Vilsack called on farmers to accept the political reality that U.S. farm program direct payments are under fire both at home and abroad and therefore farmers should develop other sources of income. In his remarks to the groups he said he intends to promote a far more diversified income base for the farm sector, saying that windmills and biofuels should definitely be part of the income mix and that organic agriculture will also play an increasing role.
The Secretary stressed that USDA is involved in every major issue today, from economic recovery and energy security, to food safety and foreclosures. He said he will work hard to ensure that USDA has a seat at the table in setting policies in all of these areas and ensure that both Washington policy makers and the general public are made aware of the farm sector's important role in all of these areas.