Vilsack’s Plan to Boost Farm Income

89.6% of American farm families require off-farm income to make a living. That is a concerning statistic for Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack, who says that he has a plan “to create an industry where more people can make a living from what they want to do and love to do.”

To boost farm income, Vilsack plans to prioritize building export markets. “We need to continue focusing on providing greater presence in export markets,” he says, “meaning people on the ground, more partnerships with institutions and industries to have a better understanding of what the market requires, and more marketing so the us brand is well known and well accepted in markets.”

But that is only the beginning: Vilsack also says that it’s important to make domestic markets better for producers. “I think its fair to say there is a lot of concern abut consolidation in a variety of areas,” he continued, “so we are going to do what we can at usda to ensure we have adequate price discovery, that we strengthen rules for a more competitive environment to ensure farmers are treated fairly in the market.”

In addition, he also has his eye on creating new markets in agriculture. Elaborating on that point, he explained, “I mean a focus on climate and the ability to create new opportunities for famers to profit by sequestering carbon. Farmers profit by embracing practices that we know are climate smart, produce regenerative results, that we know will improve the soil health.” He says the USDA is looking into creating a carbon bank or using the Commodity Credit Corporation to incentivize farmers to adopt conservation practices.

Vilsack says he’s optimistic about his relationships with leaders at the U.S. Trade Representative’s office and the EPA, and he hopes those partnerships will create opportunities for agriculture, rather than challenges.