Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack talked about feeding the world's hungry during a presentation Monday before the National Press Club. The Secretary noted the challenge of feeding a growing global population is real and success is not guaranteed, stating that past approaches are not enough. He said we need to increase both the sustainability and productivity of global agriculture so food is available, accessible and usable to people everywhere in the world.
The Secretary added that he strongly believes our nation, our scientists, our policymakers and most of all our farmers, ranchers and agricultural producers have proven they are up to the challenge. American farmers are the most creative and productive in the world. America has moved from subsistence farming of the 1920s and 30s to the world's largest food exporter today.
Vilsack noted this evolution was not pre-ordained. He cited three principals necessary to succeed. They are: the solution lies in innovation, arising from research and development; global food security need not be and should not be at the sacrifice of efforts to conserve our natural resources; and the strategy must focus on country identified needs and the core competencies of U.S. departments and agencies of other developing countries, and international organizations.
Vilsack will be participating in the upcoming G-20 Summit in Paris next week where feeding the world will be a major point of focus.
During his remarks at the National Press Club, Vilsack also addressed the amendment that will be voted on Tuesday in the Senate to repeal the tax incentives for ethanol as well as the 54-cent tariff on foreign ethanol. He defended biofuels saying that the ethanol industry creates thousands of rural jobs and boosts the farm economy.
"We don't want to cut our way out of a job opportunity," Vilsack said. He said lawmakers should tread carefully on any revisions, adding that it's fairly clear the import tariff will end eventually.