Producers question Vilsack in national telecast

Producers question Vilsack in national telecast

Posted Aug. 20, 2012


Two Iowa Pork Producers Association Board members followed up on a meeting earlier in the day by attending U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack’s nationally televised town hall meeting Aug. 16 at the Iowa State Fair.

The meeting was held in the Penningroth Media Center at the cattle barn and telecast live on RFD-TV and Rural TV. Veteran farm broadcaster Max Armstrong moderated the show.

A small crowd of about 100 people and the national cable television audience heard Vilsack discuss USDA’s continuing efforts to help farmers impacted by this summer’s drought.

USDA has opened millions of acres of idled farm land for grazing and haying, announced a $170 million meat purchase and freed nearly $30 million in funds to aid those suffering from the drought, Vilsack said.

“[The money] is to provide some degree of help for folks who may want to drill deeper wells for their own personal use and to be able to get water to livestock,” he said.

He also took questions from the audience and through social media during the hour-long broadcast.

IPPA President-elect Greg Lear from Spencer and Past-president Leon Sheets of Ionia both stepped to the microphone during the telecast to question Vilsack about the water situation and how USDA can further help pork producers who have suffered greatly during the hot, dry summer. Lear also publicly thanked Vilsack for USDA’s $100 million pork purchase announced Aug. 13.

Sheets was satisfied with the former Iowa governor’s responses and felt he left open the possibility of more supplemental pork purchases.

“The secretary reiterated that [USDA] understands the situation that agriculture and livestock producers are in,” Sheets said. “He’s willing to use the necessary resources to help us.”

The town hall meeting followed nearly a 30-minute meeting with Vilsack earlier in the day at the Iowa Pork Tent. Several IPPA producer/leaders and National Pork Producers Council officials discussed various issues impacting the pork industry with the secretary.