USDA Secretary Vilsack Visits Valley, Discusses Future Of Farming

By Casey Kuhn
Published: Wednesday, September 14, 2016 - 3:22pm
Updated: Wednesday, September 14, 2016 - 4:04pm
(Photo by Casey Kuhn - KJZZ)
USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack talks to a crowd at ASU.

Arizona State University hosted the head of one of America’s largest federal agencies at a forum discussing the future of agriculture Wednesday.

U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack discussed strategies to bring younger people into agriculture, and how to address a hotter climate and potential future drought.

Along with theoretical change, Vilsack pointed out specific programs already in place, like farm loans, grants and Colorado River management.

“At some point there will be too little water for the demands," Vilsack said. "So can we proactively now, not in the heat of the moment, not when we’re actually confronted with this threat, be able to allocate and figure out how to deal with this.”

The global news of the day also involved agriculture — Wednesday morning German chemical corporation Bayer announced it will buy U.S. seed seller Monsanto for $66 billion, in all cash.

Bayer produces pesticides and by joining with Monsanto, would create the world’s largest supplier of seeds and agricultural chemicals.

Vilsack hopes those reviewing the merger will belay worries of seed monopolization.

“Those who are engaged in these deals are looking for ways in which they can reassure people in the countryside that there’s gonna continue to be choice, there’s going to continue to be competition, and there’s going to continue to be entrepreneurial opportunities,” he said.

According to NPR, the deal is expected to be completed by the end of 2017, if regulators approve it.

Vilsack was also scheduled to be in El Mirage on Wednesday to discuss immigration reform and more protections for farm workers.

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