United States Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack met with northeastern Ohio farmers to discuss the major issues in the industry, concluding though conditions are improving, the industry is still in rough shape.
Vilsack began the meeting noting the concern in the dwindling number of dairy farmers. “The last 10 years we’ve gone from 110,000 dairy operators (nationwide) to 65,000. I wasn’t real good in math, but I was good enough to know that’s not a trend line you want to continue if you want an operation that gives young people an opportunity.”
According to the USDA secretary, a dairy council has formed to address the biggest problems in the industry. The council will consider such items as risk management and supply management to help sustain the dairy industry.
The Agriculture Secretary also feels a major problem is the lack of connection between farmers and consumers. He hopes that the Know Your Farmers, Know Your Food program will solve this problem.
Finally, Vilsack addressed the concern farmers have over the difficulty to utilize USDA programs. They feel these programs are too time-consuming to be beneficial. He listened to proposed solutions such as looking at applicants on a county-based level rather than state-wide.
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