US Ag secretary gives moving speech about supporting farmers

In a month when many political speeches have been made south of the border, an organization of Ventura County, California farmers recently shared a video on their Facebook and YouTube page of United States Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack giving a speech about a group who hasn’t received a great deal of attention during this election cycle: farmers.

The group, Sustain Ventura County, which promotes sustainable agriculture in southern California, posted the video, entitled “Powerful words from USDA Secretary Vilsack” on Youtube on July 18, and on their Facebook page the following day.

Vilsack, a former governor of Iowa, has served as the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture since 2009. In the speech, he discusses the importance of farmers to society and the need to celebrate agriculture. “Every one of us that’s not a farmer, is not a farmer because we have farmers,” he said. “We delegate the responsibility of feeding our families to a relatively small percentage of this country. If you look at 85 percent of what’s grown in this country, it’s raised by 200,000-300,000 people. That’s less than one tenth of one percent of America.”

The vast majority of the country, Vilsack said, “can be lawyers and doctors and peace corps volunteers and economists and people that work for government – all of the other occupations – because we never think about, ‘geeze, do I have to actually grow the food for my family? No. I go to the grocery store and get it. So I’m free to do whatever I want to do with my life.’ That is an incredible freedom that we take for granted in this country. It is not true in most of the countries in this world.”

Rather than criticizing and demonizing farmers, “we ought to be celebrating these people, in my view, and we don’t do it enough,” he said.

Vilsack was rumoured to be on the short list of names being considered by Hillary Clinton for her vice presidential pick, but lost out to U.S. Senator and former governor of Virginia Tim Kaine.

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