According to an Associated Press article on Vilsack’s speech in Washington D.C., Vilsack warned that rural America is “becoming less and less relevant to the politics of the country” because its assets like food, recreational areas and energy are overlooked as the population shifts from rural communities to urbanized areas.
“Why is it that we don’t have a farm bill? It isn’t just the differences of policy. It’s the fact that rural America with a shrinking population is becoming less and less relevant to the politics of the country, and we had better recognize that and we better begin to reverse it,” Vilsack said.
The Agriculture Department says 50 percent of rural counties have lost population in the last four years and poverty rates are higher there than in metropolitan areas. To ensure the voices of America’s farmers and ranchers are heard, Vilsack says “we need a proactive message, not a reactive message.”
“How are you going to encourage young people to want to be involved in rural America or farming if you don’t have a proactive message?” Vilsack said. “You are competing against the world now.”
Vilsack encourages farmers to embrace new kinds of markets, work to promote global exports, embrace diversity and replace a preservation mindset with a growth mindset.