New Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack closed out this year’s Commodity Classic on Friday with a startling statistic.
“89.6% of American farm families currently do not make the majority of the money that they do earn from their farming operation. Saying this another way, nearly 90 percent of American farmers require off-farm income- by finding a job themselves, a spouse’s job, maybe even the kids are working as well off the farm- in order to maintain and keep the farm.”
He says that suggests they need to do a much better job at USDA to create a situation and an industry where more people can make the majority of what they make from what they want to do and what they love to do.
“So, the focus for us over the course of the next several months, and frankly for the next 4 years, is going to be markets. More markets, better markets, newer markets, and fairer markets.
That includes trade, enforcing existing trade deals and gaining new trade deals, but what does he mean by newer markets? He says it’s a focus on climate.
“And the ability to create new opportunities for farmers to profit by sequestering carbon. Farmers profit by embracing practices that we know are climate smart, that we know produce regenerative results, that we know will improve the soil health.”
Practices like cover crops, crop diversity, rotational grazing, and others.
“By investing in those practices, we’re also going to do right by the environment, and we’re also going to be right by climate, and by creating opportunities, perhaps through a carbon bank of sorts, that would be focused and designed specifically to benefit farmers.”
Commodity Classic sessions, including Vilsack’s closing session, will be archived and available to view until April 30th. You just have to register at the Commodity Classic website by March 12.