Secretary of Agriculture speaks at University

Vilsack advocates better programs for rural America and farming in general.

Carter Haaland

Secretary of Agriculture Tim Vilsack addressed the future of farming in the United States and internationally at the University of MinnesotaâÄôs Ted Mann Concert Hall Monday night. In the United States, 55 percent of farmers will not identify farming as their principal profession, Vilsack said. These farmers often have to work full time outside of farming to make ends meet. âÄúItâÄôs tough to be a farmer. ItâÄôs a hard life,âÄù Vilsack said. Vilsack discussed starting a beginning farmers program that would help young farmers get into the business. He also talked about developing resources in rural America in order to break the countryâÄôs addiction to foreign fuel and focusing efforts on developing renewable energies and biofuels. He continually stressed the importance of rural America, as well as creating opportunities that play to the strengths of these areas. Following the lecture, Dean Allen Levine of the College of Food and Natural Resources and Dean J. Brian Atwood of the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs questioned Vilsack about funding and other agricultural-related issues. Vilsack frequently mentioned the new program launched by the United States Department of Agriculture called âÄúKnow Your Farmer, Know Your Food,âÄù which aims to help develop local and regional food systems. Marc Dettmann, a first-year graduate student studying public policy, said he liked the idea of building up rural communities. âÄúI think the secretary did a great job of maneuvering into global and local issues,âÄù Dettmann said. The event, sponsored by the College of Continuing Education and the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, combined âÄúGreat Conversations,âÄù an annual series that pairs University faculty with guest speakers, and the Freeman Lecture, a series that focuses on agricultural policy issues. âÄúThe future is absolutely phenomenal if we see it and are willing to embrace it,âÄù Vilsack said.