While most of the public's attention is focused on the upcoming elections, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack is already thinking about the next president’s agriculture policy.
Vilsack—who was on the short list to be Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s running mate—announced Aug. 17 that his department will host a series of fall forums to highlight issues facing the future of agriculture and “set the stage for the next administration."
In the coming months, the department will partner with universities across the country to hold discussions on land tenure, climate change, export markets, agricultural research and attracting the next generation of farmers. The goal is to formulate a transition document to help the next administration get a sense of the most pressing agriculture issues.
“As we prepare for a new administration, I think it is important for us to do a good job of transition, and part of that transition is to be able to identify for the new administration some emerging issues or some existing issues that require some thought,” Vilsack told reporters during an Aug. 17 conference call.
Exact dates and locations aren’t nailed down for some of the sessions, but the first event will happen Aug. 29 at the University of Arkansas, where USDA officials will discuss land tenure and how changes in ownership to a new generation of farmers will challenge crop production and conservation. In mid-September, Vilsack himself heads to Arizona State University to discuss climate change and its impact on water and land use.
In October forum at Colorado State University will focus on growing export markets and another in Florida will focus on pests and diseases.
Officials are also planning sessions on new technologies and regional food systems.
A spokeswoman for USDA told Bloomberg BNA that definitive dates and times for all events will be released later.
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