Addressing the largest farming audience since returning to his role as Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack announced three new initiatives from USDA to assist farmers.
Since the trade war with China began, China has become less reliant on U.S. agriculture. Vilsack recognizes the need to diversify markets.
“That’s why we’re announcing [Friday] that in addition to the Dubai trade mission, we’ll sponsor four additional trade missions in 2022,” he says. “We’ll travel to the UK in London in June, we’ll go to the Philippines in Southeast Asia in July, we’ll travel to Kenya in October, and Spain in November. The goal is to expand opportunities to make sure we’re in a position to trade.”
Vilsack says our trading partners and domestic consumers have been increasingly asking for climate-smart and sustainable, without a standard of what that means. As a result, farmers are participating in USDA’ Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities.
“We anticipate a lot of applications coming in,” says Vilsack. “In fact, there’s so much interest in this program that we’ve received a number of requests from groups around the country knowing that April 8 was the deadline for submission of applications for large-scale projects. We’re extending that deadline to May 6, to have folks refine their ideas.”
The deadline for smaller projects has also been extended to June 10.
“I want to underscore that we expect and anticipate all commodities, geographies, production methods, all-size farming operations to be able to participate,” says Vilsack.
USDA is also aware of the painful fertilizer prices that farmers have to pay. Vilsack says the U.S. has become too reliant on outside sources of fertilizers and ingredients for fertilizers.
“We’ve had this incredible efficiency based on this global system we’ve put together, but we forgot about resiliency—we forgot about the ability to make sure if there is a disruption, we’re able to adjust and shift,” he says. “Made in America with innovation, utilizing and impacting in assisting sustainably active farming operations. We’re announcing $250 million of USDA resources that will be made available in the form of grants to assist in that effort.”
Vilsack ended the session by saying he will continue to advocate for farmers and ranchers.