New Day at the Department of Agriculture?
Hard to say – but Secretary Vilsack is making many very encouraging noises. The mainstream press has been busy with other things, but this press release lays out a whole bunch of priorities that if implemented would be quite the turnaround. Excerpt below is shortened but not otherwise edited. Italics mine:
• Combating childhood obesity and enhancing health and nutrition, indicating that the department should play a key role in the public health debate and that nutrition programs should be seen as an opportunity to both alleviate hunger and prevent health care problems.
• Advancing research and development and pursuing opportunities to support the development of biofuels, wind power, and other renewable energy sources ( and he’s not just talking about corn).
• Making progress on major environmental challenges, including climate change. Vilsack said it’s important that farmers and ranchers play a role with USDA in efforts to promote incentives for management practices that provide clean air, clean water, and wildlife habitat, and help farmers participate in markets that reward them for sequestering carbon and limiting greenhouse gas emissions.
• Supporting the profitability of farmers and ranchers by providing a safety net that works for all of agriculture, including independent producers and local and organic agriculture, and enforcing the Packers and Stockyards Act…
• Restoring the mission of the Forest Service as a protector of clean air, clean water, and wildlife habitat; a provider of recreation opportunities; a key player in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and carbon sequestration…
There’s quite a bit more, so for convenience here’s the link again.