Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and Senate Agriculture Chair Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., met with community leaders, farmers and ranchers in Michigan Monday to explore ways federal, state and local officials can work together to improve economic conditions and create jobs.
Adding jobs is a top priority for Senator Stabenow, who says agricultural research has an important role to play.
"We have to make sure we are continuing to be committed to ag research," Stabenow said. "This is one of the areas right now in real jeopardy in terms of cuts that have been made already, proposed cuts by the House of Representatives, and I think we have to be very, very careful that we do not eliminate our great opportunities for the future by cutting back on research. There are great opportunities for us to add jobs, but we can't get there though unless we are continuing to focus on research and developing these new great opportunities."
Secretary Vilsack says Stabenow has insisted that USDA continues to support agriculture research. He notes nothing has been more productive in the U.S. over the last 50 years than agriculture, and says research has a lot to do with that.
"We've seen a 200% increase in agricultural productivity; that will not continue if we begin to flatline or decline our commitment to research," Vilsack said. "It is about jobs, it's also about creating new ways to use agricultural products. There are 3,500 different ways to use a kernel of corn and an equal number of ways to use soybeans and I tell you we're also learning how to use the waste products of agriculture to produce these fuels. There are new jobs, new opportunities and higher incomes for farmers and ranchers that are dependent upon research."
Secretary Vilsack says the Obama Administration is focused on creating good-paying jobs in the Midwest and across America that help businesses grow and communities thrive.