Sec. Tom Vilsack announces new initiatives in a trip to the Midwest.

Market to Market | Clip
Jul 1, 2022 | 3 min

The Secretary of Agriculture beat the holiday rush to get out of the city for two different events aimed at rural America.

John Torpy was on the trip and begins with a look at a new program to squeeze just a little more out of farm commodities.


USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack hit the road this week, announcing new policy initiatives in the Hawkeye state. 

Sec. Tom Vilsack, U.S. Department of Agriculture: ”This is about creating new economic opportunity for farmers and for rural areas.”

Vilsack’s first stop was at a family owned dairy and creamery in Ely, Iowa where  he announced a $10 million pilot program designed to encourage the creation of biobased products in rural America. The intent of the package is to turn crop residue or other agricultural waste to make construction materials and consumer products.

Sec. Tom Vilsack, U.S. Department of Agriculture: “All of this is designed to support the climate smart, uh, agricultural commodity initiative, uh, that this administration's focused on. And all of that is designed to create two things, more farm income and more jobs in rural places”

The directive in the Bipartisan Infrastructure law pairs the USDA with land grant universities to study the pros and cons of manufacturing with materials derived from crop residue and farm waste.

The following day, Secretary Vilsack stopped at  a farm just west of Minburn. There he told the crowd that more than $4 billion dollars has been distributed out of the USDA’s Emergency Relief Program. The payments were made to agricultural and livestock producers who were impacted by severe weather events in 2020 and 2021.

Sec. Tom Vilsack, U.S. Department of Agriculture: “I think we're now realizing that we're gonna see, uh, disasters of, uh, of, of unprecedented number or unprecedented strength or unprecedented cost. And so we need to have the flexibility to be able to, to shift and adjust our disaster programs to meet the regional or local need.”

The disaster relief fund was created in 2021 when President Joe Biden signed it into law . A total of $10 billion is available for producers impacted by wildfires, droughts, hurricanes, winter storms and other natural disasters eligible for aid. The relief aid also covers livestock producers who incurred losses due to drought and wildfire in 2021.

For Market to Market, I’m John Torpy