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From Ag Secretary’s Speech, Opportunities for Value-Added Products and Domestic Fertilizer Sources Resonate

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After Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack’s speech at Commodity Classic on Friday, two Indiana representatives discussed the ideas presented with HAT farm broadcaster Eric Pfeiffer. 

Developing value-added products and a circular economy were just two of the themes that Matthew Chapman, board member for the Indiana Soybean Alliance, and Mike Beard, board member for the Indiana Corn Growers Association, resonated with.  

Matthew Chapman, board member for the Indiana Soybean Alliance.

Chapman says that Vilsack’s discussion of the constant changes in the world economy led to a discussion on how the U.S. can improve food security. 

“Administration is striving towards what they termed as a circular economy, where we can try to keep as much of that value-added products and proteins here in the States, in the Midwest, in the U.S. And along with that, the jobs stay here, the money stays here, the investment stays here.” 

The results of those products staying in the States can be impactful, Chapman continues.

“Any time we can keep those value-added products here, we don’t rely on our neighbors or the uncertainty around the world to keep us in business. And it also comes from a security standpoint: if we have food security, that’s one less thing we have to worry about from a global perspective.” 

Mike Beard, board member for the Indiana Corn Growers Association.

Domestic fertilizer sources could provide some of that security. Beard says that he’s interested to see what happens with the opportunity Vilsack discussed.  

“We’d all be excited to be able to source fertilizer right here in the U.S. The fact that we are so short on fertilizers and other inputs has been a major topic of discussion, and those of us that have it, and those of us that don’t have it yet.” 

Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities is another opportunity that Beard says caught his interest. Introduced on February 7, this initiative allots up to $1 billion to projects that develop market opportunities for farm, ranch, or forest products produced with climate-smart practices such as no-till, nutrient management, agroforestry, or prescribed grazing.  

“[Vilsack]’s asked all of agriculture to submit ideas and programs that would enhance the value of the crops that we grow. For us here, it’s corn, soybeans, wheat, and sorghum. But it can be nuts and berries and other fruits and tree fruits and other things that we can add value to here in this country and certify that they are climate proven, if you will.” 

Beard says he’s interested to see the results of the program.  

He and Chapman spoke with Pfeiffer in New Orleans. Hear that full interview by clicking the play button below.   

Ashley Davenport has more on Secretary Vilsack’s speech in this report.