As the New Year begins, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack says exports and better consumer understanding are his top priorities for 2012. Vilsack says 2011 was a very good year for U.S. exports, as a weak U.S. dollar made farm goods less expensive on the world market. Vilsack is anticipating continued strong overseas demand in 2012.
Vilsack says Asian markets will continue to show strong demand for U.S. farm products, “Asia will continue to be our focus because that is where the growing markets are. I visited Vietnam a few weeks ago, and it has grown to be our 13th largest trading partner in agricultural products.”
Vilsack also named as a top priority working with Congress to craft a new farm bill in 2012. He acknowledged that budget issues would be a serious concern, but emphasized that maintaining a safety net for U.S. farmers is necessary.