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Agriculture

US Ag Secretary Touts Moves To Boost Rural Economies

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U.S. Agricultural Secretary Tom Vilsack spoke in Wichita on Monday to about 470 people attending the National Farmers Union convention. Vilsak said The Agriculture Department aims to implement the new farm bill in ways that boost rural economies, while complementing production agriculture.

The department's Economic Research Service data shows that 2010 to 2013 marks the first period with an estimated population loss for rural America as a whole.

Vilsack told the group that agriculture is 12 times more productive today than in 1950, when he was born; and that means fewer people now on the farm.

Part of his department's rural strategy is using conservation efforts that create markets and support industries such as outdoor recreation.

One is developing local and regional food systems where smaller-sized operators can be profitable by selling in farmers markets, to schools and other local markets.

Another piece is developing rural manufacturing facilities such as bioprocessing plants that create good paying jobs.