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National Ag Day honors the heart of America

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

On March 18, ag leaders gathered in Washington, D.C. to celebrate National Ag Week. Joining the celebration was Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and other Senate Ag Committee members who spoke at the 2024 AgriPulse Ag and Food Policy Summit.

This year’s summit, themed “Revitalizing Rural Revenues” focused on the future of U.S. agriculture and new revenue possibilities in a wide range of sectors.

Comments from Secretary Vilsack

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) posted Vilsack’s summit comments to the USDA website on March 19, where he states, “Every year on National Agriculture Day, we come together to celebrate American agriculture and recognize the individuals who feed, fuel and clothe our nation and the world.”

“USDA works every day to support these men and women, making sure they have equitable access to the tools and capital they need, new and better markets both at home and abroad, support for operating in the face of a changing climate and vocal champions at USDA for their work and their communities,” he says. 

“In fact, many of USDA’s officials come from farming or farmworker backgrounds, lending a personal perspective and drive to make our programs the best they can be for the people who need them,” Vilsack adds.

He continues, “Every person who wakes up in the morning and doesn’t have to grow or harvest their own food gets to do this thanks to the small percentage of our population who work the land day in and day out.”

“Farmers and farmworkers don’t just feed us, it is their resilience, dedication and hard work that ensure we have a secure, reliable, and accessible food supply,” he reiterates.

Vilsack further notes through conservation and other sustainable practices, ag producers keep small towns alive and provide healthy food to school children in their communities. 

“From a pandemic to trade wars and global conflicts, the agricultural supply chain has faced many challenges in recent years. For perhaps the first time, many Americans realized in a tangible way how important agriculture is to our everyday lives,” Vilsack remarks.”

Vilsack concludes, “From helping new and beginning farmers stay in business and making operations more resistant to unpredictable climate threats to recruiting a diverse next generation of agriculture professionals and creating a new model where farms of all sizes can thrive, USDA is laser-focused on creating opportunities for all who want to participate in agriculture, both now and well into the future.”

According to Successful Farming, Vilsack discussed the challenge of the agricultural trade imbalance, which has several factors driving it.

He states, “The administration would spend $20 billion over three to five years for various initiatives to create new sources of agricultural revenue, ranging from climate-smart agriculture and ecosystems services to expanding local processing capacity and developing new bioproducts made from farm waste.”

“Today, farmers get anywhere from 15 to 22 cents of the food dollar at the grocery story. When they sell locally or regionally, they get 50 to 70 cents,” he states.

Senate Agriculture Committee remarks

During the summit, Sen. John Boozman (R-AR), a ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, fielded questions from the audience and addressed the farm bill and trade issues.

He says the need for a farm bill is there and the Senate Agriculture Committee expects to be working on a bill and is confident the House of Representatives will act this spring.

However, a Slido poll at the beginning of the summit showed 81 percent of attendees at the conference said they did not expect a farm bill to be enacted this year. 

Boozman replies, “I hope the numbers are wrong because farmers need the stability, and if you talk to the average person in Congress, most members on both sides very much want to get a farm bill done.” 

The senator disagreed with an audience question pertaining to Republicans not wanting to pass a five-year farm bill, which could be viewed as helping President Joe Biden in the presidential race, saying, “I don’t believe this at all, I believe it’s a misstatement.” 

While Congress may be evenly split, Boozman made the case Republicans would benefit with the rural vote this year by passing a farm bill.

Boozman notes, “Rural America also needs a healthy economy, and this is why it’s so important to get a farm bill done.”

Following Boozman’s updates, Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) suggested keeping the agriculture nutrition coalition together to pass a bill. 

“The only way to get a farm bill is by building coalitions, not by pitting one title against another,” she stresses. “What does not work is playing politics of food assistance and nutrition against everything else in the farm bill.”

She continues, “If we abandon the coalition, we don’t get a farm bill, but I believe we are going to get a farm bill by building coalitions.”

Additional ag week events

Vilsack also presented a government proclamation to farm leaders at the USDA Whitten Building in Washington, D.C. on March 19 to officially kick off National Ag Day around the country.

Also, Ag Day on the Hill offered individuals the opportunity to take ag issues directly to their legislators.

One of the recent offspring of the annual Ag Day remembrance is the Celebration of Modern Agriculture on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. 

This event is sponsored by the Association of Equipment Manufacturers, and the multi-day celebration will be held May 6-8, with a focus on agriculture’s role in a sustainable supply chain and highlighting the benefits of today’s agricultural equipment technology along with gains achieved by producers, agribusiness, food processors and retailers.

Melissa Anderson is the editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to

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