Friday, February 6, 2009

Vilsack: USDA Must Serve Eaters as Well as Farmers

By Jane Black
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, February 5, 2009; Page A04

In an interview this week, he called for a "new day" for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's sprawling bureaucracy, which he believes should champion not only farmers but also everyone who eats.

"This is a department that intersects the lives of Americans two to three times a day. Every single American," he said. "So I absolutely see the constituency of this department as broader than those who produce our food -- it extends to those who consume it."

It is a significant departure from the traditional view of the USDA, which historically has emphasized programs that support commercial farming, such as price guarantees for crops and marketing promotions for exports.

"He's definitely sounding a different note than his predecessors," said Michael Pollan, the reform-minded author of the bestseller "In Defense of Food." "Whether they'll be reflected in policies remains to be seen."

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