USDA Secretary Vilsack unveils roadmap for agriculture

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United States Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack led a roundtable discussion in front of over 100 people in Casco on Thursday, outlining how rural America can thrive in an evolving world.

Joined by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection Secretary Romanski, Vilsack first commended the Pagel family for the innovative ideas they already employ at their operations, such as a natural gas plant and an on-site cheese production facility. Last October, Dairy Dreams received a $2.5 million grant from the USDA’s Fertilizer Product Expansion Program to offset equipment costs and building improvements associated with launching the production of organic fertilizers. In addition to the organic fertilizer produced, the process converts the liquid from the manure into clean, dischargeable water, limiting the greenhouse gases emitted due to hauling.

Vilsack then outlined the department’s roadmap to opportunity for farms, rural communities, and families. By relying on climate-smart agriculture and local and regional food systems, Vilsack believes they can reverse the current trend of farmland being converted into other uses and farms of all sizes disappearing while making rural America a better place to live.

The USDA incentivizes farmers to participate in renewable energy and bioproducts, ecosystem service markets, and fertilizer production to develop additional revenue streams. According to Vilsack, the United States has lost over 544,000 farms and 151 million acres of farmland since the early 1980s. 

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