Just reading this, I’m thinking that maybe Mr. Vilsack and his Department could team up with rural folks in developing a proactive message. It seems to me that if you take/decide to keep a job as an Agriculure Secretary, you are part of the solution.
And there are more “folks” in rural America, at least out west, than farmers. Maybe we need a broader “rural America” set of policies, and move proactively beyond the idea that those policies are all located in USDA, and that the Farm Bill is the sine qua non of rural America.
It also seems to me that eating, heating, and energy to run electronics are important to urban Americans, even if they don’t/can’t afford to take their recreation in rural areas. I guess maybe we can get all that stuff from other countries (after all, we’re “competing against the world”)..but I think we’ve had some issues with that, in the past.. at least.
But maybe the Secretary’s discussion is really about politics, not policy.
WASHINGTON — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has some harsh words about rural America: It’s “becoming less and less relevant,” he says.
A month after an election that Democrats won even as rural parts of the country voted overwhelmingly Republican, the former Democratic governor of Iowa told farm-belt leaders this past week that he’s frustrated with their internecine squabbles and says they need to be more strategic in picking their political fights.
“It’s time for us to have an adult conversation with folks in rural America,” Vilsack said in a speech at a forum sponsored by the Farm Journal. “It’s time for a different thought process here.”
He said rural America’s biggest assets — the food supply, recreational areas and energy — can be overlooked by people elsewhere as the U.S. population shifts more to cities, their suburbs and exurbs.
“Why is it that we don’t have a farm bill?” Vilsack said. “It isn’t just the differences of policy. It’s the fact that rural America with a shrinking population is becoming less and less relevant to the politics of this country, and we had better recognize that and we better begin to reverse it.”
“We need a proactive message, not a reactive message,” he said. “How are you going to encourage young people to want to be involved in rural America or farming if you don’t have a proactive message? Because you are competing against the world now.”