October 6, 2016
U.S. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack, first chairman of the White House Rural Council, opened this week’s White House Rural Forum at Penn State University. Speaking directly to state and federal officials, farm organization leaders and the media, he reminded them of where their food comes from and that they didn’t have to produce it themselves. Here are excerpts from his talk:
VILSACK ON RURAL AMERICA: “It obviously provides the food we eat, most of the water we drink. Almost all of the electricity and power that we use comes from feedstocks in rural areas.”
“Every single person in this room has had the luxury of not being a farmer because we have delegated the responsibility of feeding our families and ourselves to someone we don't even know — tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of people we don't even know. They do an incredible extraordinary job. They’re the best in the world at it.
“These farmers are the best in the world — the best ever in the world. They have freed the rest of us up to be bankers and lawyers and teachers and professors and carpenters and bricklayers and any job in the economy. [Every economy] starts with a functioning agricultural economy. If you don't have that, you don't have a complex economy.”
“Rural America provides so much to the rest of the country, and all of us are ambassadors. Every single person in this room that cares about rural America is an ambassador of rural America. We have a responsibility to speak passionately about the contributions that farmers make to the rest of the country.”
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