US ag secretary touts moves to boost rural economies

FILE - U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

WICHITA, Kansas (AP) – U.S. Agricultural Secretary Tom Vilsack outlined strategies his department is implementing aimed at boosting rural economies.

Vilsack told about 470 people attending the National Farmer Union convention in Wichita Monday that agriculture today is 12 times more productive than in 1950 when he was born. That means fewer people on the farm, and the challenge is keeping people in rural communities.

Part of his department’s rural strategy is using conservation efforts that create markets. Another is developing local and regional food systems where smaller-sized operators can be profitable by selling in farmers markets, to schools and other local markets. Another piece is developing rural manufacturing facilities such as bioprocessing plants that create good paying jobs.

EPA administrator Gina McCarthy also touted biofuels as a major economic engine for rural economies.

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