With just about one month under his belt, what is your take on how well Tom Vilsack, the new US Secretary of agriculture, is settling into his position? The former Governor of Iowa was appointed by President Obama to fill the position.
Perhaps the better question is "How do you judge whether someone is doing a good or poor job in the position, especially in only a short time frame?" It's a massive bureaucracy, with only a relatively small portion of its huge budget actually going to farm programs. The lion's share of it goes to food stamps and other welfare programs.
If you expected sweeping change or fast action on any particular aspect of the job, you've probably been disappointed, and perhaps you set your sights a bit high. After all, it takes a while to learn how to grab and control the reins of an organization that large.
Here's the good news: a preview of sorts. In the March issue of Indiana Prairie Farmer, you'll find an announcement about an essay contest for adults. A similar youth essay contest with cash awards sponsored by CountryMark just concluded. Winners will be announced in the April Indiana Prairie Farmer.
The topic selected for youth to write about was "What would you do as Secretary of agriculture for a month?" We've heard the young people have some very innovative ideas.
But the sponsors, CountryMark, makers of petroleum products and leaders in biodiesel in the past decade in Indiana, decided they would like to hear what adult readers had to say. What ideas would you want to put into action if you were in that position? Maybe someone out there has an idea that the Secretary should consider.
The best part is that CountryMark is putting up substantial prizes for the top three essays written on the topic. They may not be enough to entice you to stop planting corn for a day, but they certainly could prove more profitable than many other activities you might engage in on a normal day.
So be getting your thoughts together. Just what would you do if you were in the most powerful position in agriculture in the world, if only for a month? We'll provide details about length of the essay, how to enter, and unveil the prizes in our March issue, due out in just a couple weeks. So be watching your mailbox!