The Hagstrom Report

Agriculture News As It Happens


Vilsack: Ag is back and cool


Enjoying the “Ag Kicks Ups Its Heels” reception in Charlotte, N.C., Tuesday evening are (standing, from left) Graham Christensen of the Nebraska Farmers Union; Nebraska pork producer and lobbyist Joy Philippi; Dana Brooks of the National Milk Producers Federation, and (seated, from left) Chandler Goule of the National Farmers Union and Mary Kay Thatcher of the American Farm Bureau Federation. (The Hagstrom Report/Jerry Hagstrom)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told a group of farm lobbyists here this week that agriculture has “a phenomenal future ahead.”

Speaking to a group of lobbyists who organized a reception on Tuesday evening, Vilsack said, “For far too long people who farm and ranch have not received their due” even while the country has had food security, but the last few years have been prosperous and the future looks even better. Noting that he had recently toured a Ford plant, Vilsack said the auto industry is looking at making cars that are “crop-based” in everything from the body to the seats as well as the fuel.

“Young people are beginning to go back to agriculture schools and universities,” Vilsack said. “Ag is back. It’s cool again.”

Vilsack spoke at a reception in the Mint Museum organized by many of the same lobbyists who organized a farm luncheon at the Republican convention in Tampa, but that also included the Democratic-leaning National Farmers Union.

At another event, Farmers Union President Roger Johnson urged rural delegates to get out a Democratic vote because the country needs a new farm bill. President George W. Bush vetoed the 2008 farm bill twice, forcing Congress to override it, Johnson said, adding that House Republicans are stalling the 2012 farm bill.

The attendees and sponsors of the reception included a number of Republican lobbyists. CropLife America CEO Jay Vroom, who chaired the luncheon in Tampa, noted that his organization has not taken a position in the 2012 presidential race, and that his membership in Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s advisory committee is personal.

“The beauty of agriculture is that we have friends on both sides of the aisle,” Vroom said.