Vilsack urges Fresno State students to commit to rural America

 (Fresno, CA) USDA Secretary Thomas Vilsack urged Fresno State students and young people across the U.S. to get involved in agriculture and rural America.  He spoke on the university campus on Nov. 19.  

    “Rural America needs you… America needs you,” he said, “And I hope you can see the opportunities.”

    Earlier in his nearly hour-long remarks, he made a compelling case that Congress should pass the “Farm Bill” and properly fund USDA programs in order to increase the economic opportunity in rural areas in terms of production ag, increasing local food marketing, conservation and  creating a bio-based economy, moving away from fossil fuels.

    The Farm Bill is a jobs bill, he said, and further it’s a conservation bill, a research and development bill, an energy bill, a local and regional food system bill, an infrastructure bill improving water and power resources and a food bill benefitting millions of struggling families.

    By reducing the risk of farming, the Farm Bill will protect U.S. food security, he said.  It’s also a reform bill reducing the national deficit by trimming the cost of some programs.  He concluded his Farm Bill comments saying that passage will support meeting the global food security challenge, a moral challenge for the next generation.  Passage of the Farm Bill, he said, will benefit all Americans.

    The Secretary also offered support for immigration reform, explaining that it has the potential to reduce the deficit by up to $850 billion and shore up Social Security by bringing people out of the shadows and into the system.  He said it provides an historic increase in border security.  And not to mention it will help provide the labor force to insure full ag production and thereby U.S. food security.

    In his remarks and in responding to audience questions, with a priority for student questions, he made no prediction about if and when the Farm Bill might be acted upon by Congress.