Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack is hosting a series of rural community forums around the country. Vilsack says USDA has two goals for the forums.
"First and foremost is to give people an opportunity to voice any concerns or ask any questions they might have about what is going on at USDA," Vilsack said. "Secondly is to make sure that folks do know that we have been quite active in the last 100 and some days since the President took office."
On Monday he visited Brush, Colo. and Tuesday he hosted a forum in Portageville, Mo. at the University of Missouri's Delta Research Center. While in Missouri, Vilsack discussed the forums as well as several other topics such as the National Animal Identification System, the pork industry, biofuels and the Average Crop Revenue Election program with Farm Progress's Jason Vance. You can listen to this discussion by clicking HERE.
A main concern of participants in the forums has been the economy and Vilsack says that once they receive the information and are aware of what USDA is doing in so many areas he thinks they are reassured that things are on the right track.
In regard to NAIS, Vilsack talked about the listening sessions that are taking place during the next two weeks and how he is seeking information to become better informed about the current system, its potential weaknesses and ways to be innovative and creative to make the system work.
Vilsack also talked at length about the crisis in the pork industry that has been exacerbated by the recent H1N1 viral outbreak and what USDA is doing; the recent releases of rules concerning biofuels; budget cuts at USDA; and the ACRE sign-up giving producers choices.