27 Dec 2013 - This week... The Secretary Sez

Once a year I change the title of this column from ‘Samuelson Sez’ to ‘The Secretary Sez’. A few days before Christmas, I was in the office of Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack in Washington, D.C. to talk about events in 2013 and hopes for 2014. At that time I asked the Secretary to take over this column with ‘The Secretary Sez’.

“First and foremost I want to wish them a happy holiday and a happy New Year. I certainly hope tht our New Year sees that a Farm Bill, and certainly for our farmers and producers in terms of policy, that our congress understands the importance of producing an immigration reform bill that provides certainty in terms of our workforce, because we all benefit from a stronger economy when our immigration system is working well. I certainly hope that we get over the budget difficulties that have created so much uncertainty and so much difficulty during 2013.

“I thought today that I would reflect on the time when I was 13 years old in 1963 when our nation lost President Kennedy. It occurred to me when I watched the anniversary of his assassination and his remarkable call to service that we all ought to be reminded of the great country it is that we live in. That it provides us with extraordinary liberties and freedoms, the ability to dream big dreams and to achieve those dreams, and that each of us owes something back to this great country.

“Now we have some very brave men and women who serve in the military who pay their debt, if you will, to the country, but the rest of us also have a debt.

“I am going to use my 2014 to rededicate myself to the service of this great country, to look for ways in which I can use my talents and my time to make America stronger and better. I think that is probably a good resolution for all of us. We have a great country and we have challenging times, but if we all step up and contribute and do as President Kennedy suggested, in “. . .asking not what our country can do for us, but what we can do for our country” , we will be stronger and better in 2014.”

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, former Governor of Iowa, could become the first two-term Secretary of Agriculture since Orville Freeman, former Governor of Minnesota, who served under John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson back in the 1960’s.

That’s it for this week on...

The Secretary Sez.