31 December 2009 - The Secretary Sez

Once a year, the title of this commentary changes from ‘Samuelson Sez’ to ‘The Secretary Sez‘. At year’s end we ask the Secretary of Agriculture, this year Tom Vilsack, to share his thoughts with America’s farmers and ranchers.So picture us sitting in the office of the Secretary of Agriculture about two weeks before Christmas talking about issues of the year ending and a look ahead to 2010. Then I turn to Secretary Tom Vilsack and say “Time now for The Secretary Sez” and he responds...

“I really appreciate this opportunity to talk directly to farmers and ranchers around the country. Recently I had the sad responsibility of doing a eulogy for Norman Borlaug who passed away last year, The Father of the Green Revolution. During the course of the eulogy preparation, I began to research some of our agricultural history. I think a lot of Americans forget that it was not too long ago that we were a country not capable of producing food for our own people, much less for the rest of the world. But our farmers and ranchers took risks; they embraced new technology, a new knowledge; they looked for ways to become more efficient. Over the course of Norman Borlaug’s life, we went from a country that couldn’t make ends meet from a food perspective to a country that was certainly the breadbasket of the world.

So first and foremost I want to thank every single farmer and rancher who is watching the show today and those who produce our food, our fiber and our fuel, for the extraordinary work you do in meeting the needs of American families.

I also want to thank you for your contribution to the American economy. You know that as a result of your efforts we have a trade surplus in agriculture which creates wealth. But we need to focus on a new rural economy to help you stay on the farm. That is why USDA is going to be actively engaged in expanding broadband access, making sure that the energy titles of the Farm Bill are aggressively promoted; working on climate legislation to bring those additional dollars and offsets into rural America, and making sure that there is a connection between local production and local food.

So I want to wish you a Happy New Year and again thank you so much for all that you do for us.”

Sitting in the office of Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack in front of a television camera and a radio microphone, and sharing with you, not Samuelson Sez, but the thoughts of the secretary on The Secretary Sez. And to all of you my sincere wish for a happy and healthy 2010 and beginning next week, it will be another year of inflicting my personal biases, prejudices and opinions on you every week on Samuelson Sez.