December 7, 2016

Vilsack Reflects on 8-Year Highs, Lows, Moving Forward

 |  By: Ashley Davenport

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack has less than 7 weeks in office until his successor takes his place, but that doesn’t mean he’s kicked up his feet and put the rest of his work on hold. He’s taking his final days to talk with state legislators about issues like the farm economy, dairy challenges, and GMO labeling.

Sec. Vilsack has also taken the time to write his replacement a 24-page note and is reflecting on his last 8-years holding the highest position in agriculture.

“It’s been a tremendous experience,” said Vilsack Tuesday on AgriTalk. “[You’re] going to have periods of times when things are good and when things are tougher. We’ve dealt with emergencies and threats to ag. It’s been a good run, a privilege and honor.”

During his time in office, Vilsack told AgriTalk host Mike Adams they have accomplished number of things: raising awareness of the importance of rural America; providing more diverse opportunities for farmers; and agricultural exports topping $1 trillion for the first time ever.  

“The long-term future is bright,” said Vilsack. He added he’s bullish about the future long-term.

Vilsack has also taken the time to reflect on the loss of fellow Democrat Hillary Clinton in November’s presidential election. According to Vilsack, 85 percent of Americans live in cities and suburbs, so politicians “go where the votes are.”

“You can’t afford to be beat so badly that it overwhelms any margin you develop because you are successful reaching urban and suburban voters,” said Vilsack.

He went on to say political parties shouldn’t be able to pick and choose groups they need to speak to. In order for Democrats to be successful next election, Vilsack said they need to physically be in rural areas.

With the Trump administration, Vilsack recognizes there could be a strained situation between the U.S.’s second and third top purchasers of ag products, China and Mexico, and that could impact markets “significantly,” having a snowball effect on other sections of agriculture.

“If we don’t get immigration reform done, there’s not going to be a workforce for agriculture,” said Vilsack. “It may not make any difference what the EPA does or doesn’t do or what the Estate Tax is or isn’t if you don’t have a market and you don’t have a workforce.”

Listen to Vilsack’s full comments on AgriTalk above.