The U.S. Department of Agriculture says it is expanding its support of new farmers and ranchers.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack met with more than a dozen young, beginning and military veteran farmers at Iowa State University in Ames. He listened to their start-up stories and announced another $18 million in grants to help new farmers get going. Vilsack says he has tried to connect government policy with on-the-ground needs for farmers.
“I’ve encouraged those in the regulatory space to have that conversation so that there is not this us-against-them kind of mentality,” he says.
Vilsack says diversity of farmers, crops and livestock, and production systems all contribute to the success of the industry.
“We are one of the only food-secure nations in the country,” he says. “We do not depend on anybody for food. China would love to be in that situation. They’re not and they never will be, but we are. And that makes us a safer nation.”
Vilsack encourages farmers to tell the majority of Americans who don’t farm what it’s like. And he says policy makers also need to listen more to what rural residents are saying.