Vilsack Warns Next Administration About Rhetoric on Immigration, Trade

Dec 1, 2016

As he prepares to leave Washington, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack warns the next administration about the impact of global markets on U. S. farmers. 

Vilsack is quick to point out he’s not privy to any information from the Republican president-elect, but he’s worried about how Donald Trump will approach immigration and trade.  Vilsack says bad decisions could spur retaliation from China and Mexico—two of the top three trading partners for the U.S.

"If you destroy markets and you don't have a workforce it won't make any difference what the regulations are or aren't. And it certainly won't make any difference what the tax rules are because there won't be anything purchased or sold. Markets will shrink," he says. 

Vilsack adds that the sector hardest hit will likely be agriculture. U.S. farmers exported nearly $40 billion worth of agricultural goods to China and Mexico last year. 

Vilsack has served nearly eight years at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and he's also former governor of Iowa. Now that his time in Washington is drawing to a close, he says he's not ruling out the idea of running for office, but doesn't want anyone to think that's his plan. 

"We've got to look for new leadership, fresh leadership. The next generation needs to step up  now and take the reins, and so, you know, to me, that's where folks ought to be focused." 

During this hour of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with Vilsack. Pete Damiano, who serves as director of the Public Policy Center at the University of Iowa, also talks with Kieffer near the end of the program about the future of the Affordable Care Act under a Trump administration.