In the four years since last heading the USDA, Sec. Tom Vilsack served as president and CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC). Vilsack said that role helped him develop a deeper understanding of what it takes to takes to be successful in global trade.
“We had several record years and dairy exports and I think part of the reason for that was we depend our presence in these export markets,” he said. “We saw more people on the ground promoting U.S. dairy, more promotions, partnerships being formed with universities and other organizations to figure out these markets in a very creative and substantive way. I take that information, that experience back into USDA.”
During a press conference late last week, Vilsack said that he and the Undersecretary for Trade will be working closely to use all available resources to deepen U.S. presence in foreign markets.
“I intend to do as much as I can to facilitate the work of the U.S. Trade Representative’s office in representing our interests in existing trade agreements, in terms of enforcement and encouraging the expansion of opportunities when they exist,” said Vilsack. “I think there are opportunities and we’ll be happy to work once the U.S. Trade Representative is confirmed—to provide whatever assistance and help we can.”
When it comes to trade and China, Vilsack is optimistic.
“There’s a recognition of the importance of that relationship as it relates to American agriculture, that there’s a continuation of these purchases, and I think this is important and we do everything we can to continue to look for other market opportunities for American agriculture,” he said.