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Vilsack Offers Advice For Next Administration, Farm Bill

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack

On a Midwest trip last week, the U.S. Agriculture Secretary offered advice to the next presidential administration.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has been on the job since 2009 and in that time his department has expanded programs for local foods and farmers markets, school meals and nutrition, and rural development. He noted that soon the agricultural sector will begin work on the next farm bill, which covers everything from crop safety nets to the food stamp program.

"The next agriculture secretary needs to have a very broad understanding of what this department does, who it impacts – and that it has an impact and effect on every single American, not just Americans in one part of the country or growing one type of commodity," Vilsack says.

In Ames, Iowa, Vilsack urged a group of young farmers to keep explaining the food system to the public and to push together for what they need in the next farm bill.

Amy Mayer is a reporter based in Ames. She covers agriculture and is part of the Harvest Public Media collaboration. Amy worked as an independent producer for many years and also previously had stints as weekend news host and reporter at WFCR in Amherst, Massachusetts and as a reporter and host/producer of a weekly call-in health show at KUAC in Fairbanks, Alaska. Amy’s work has earned awards from SPJ, the Alaska Press Club and the Massachusetts/Rhode Island AP. Her stories have aired on NPR news programs such as Morning Edition, All Things Considered and Weekend Edition and on Only A Game, Marketplace and Living on Earth. She produced the 2011 documentary Peace Corps Voices, which aired in over 160 communities across the country and has written for The New York Times, Boston Globe, Real Simple and other print outlets. Amy served on the board of directors of the Association of Independents in Radio from 2008-2015.