Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack gave a major speech on February 26, the transcript of which I just finished reading on the USDA’s website.
Normally the standard blogger thing to do is provide the link, a few snapshotted quotes, and some commentary. Not this time. Everyone who reads this blog, who cares at all about the future of food, farming, and rural America, needs to read this speech in its entirety. I am not kidding or exaggerating when I say that it made me cry, it was so good, so accurate, and so worth hearing from a government official.
I don’t agree with all of this administration’s exact policies and priorities regarding agriculture. I don’t support continued expansion of genetic engineering or corn-based ethanol. But Secretary Vilsack is showing that he really, really cares about the entire agricultural sector, and for the right reasons. He’s taking a broad view that includes everyone, not dismissing independant market farmers as hippies nor demonizing commodity farmers as evil corporate tools. He’s looking at farming, in all its iterations, and wanting to return agriculture to its rightful place in America’s business and social culture.
I think there’s a real chance we can fundamentally reshape and rebuild America’s agriculture during this guy’s tenure, in a way that works for just about everyone involved, and that is a really amazing thought. If I’m wrong, so be it, but I get more hope and more inspiration every time I read a Vilsack speech.
Read the speech, all of it.