View From The Heartland

A new adminstration in Washing­ton, DC, means plenty of changes in the Beltway. One of the newcomers is Tom Vilsack, the incoming secretary of agriculture.

To find out more about what the nation’s ag industry can expect from this former governor of Iowa, CropLife® Group Editor Paul Schrimpf talked with Mona Bond, executive director for the Ag­ribusiness Association of Iowa (AAI), to get some perspective.

CropLife: What key issues in ag did Mr. Vilsack face during his tenure as governor? What about his approach to ag in the state provides clues as to how he will approach his new job?

Mona Bond: The Vilsack administration had to work with and address the confinement livestock issues during his tenure. When presented with a reasonable solution to the issue, he supported the bill that we are currently operating with. I anticipate he will continue to weigh all the facts and listen closely to his advisors.

CL: Describe any professional encounters the association had with the Vilsack administration that might provide insight into his leadership on ag issues.

Bond: AAI supports state regulation of the products that we sell, and we currently have state regulation of fertilizer, pesticides, and seed. Under Vilsack, we were successful in getting seed added to that list. He also spent time learning more about the opportunities that the biotech industry has for the future and its impact on Iowa. He chaired the governor’s biotech committee and received very favorable reviews and comments from the newly emerging industry during that time.

CL: How would you describe his leadership personality as a governor?

Bond: He is quick to make decisions. There were times when his patience wore thin and he made some hasty decisions he should have pondered longer.

CL: Did you find it interesting that President Obama mentioned leadership in adoption of biotechnology as a positive attribute among Mr. Vilsack’s credentials representing the state of Iowa?

Bond: No. As stated earlier, Iowa had a great opportunity to work with the ag biotech industry with several basic manufacturers based or with significant operations in Iowa. Iowa is the No. 1 corn state and also No. 1 in several other ag product areas. As governor, he understood the value of this technology to Iowa and the world to fight hunger.

CL: Do you have any concerns about the direction Mr. Vilsack could take USDA over the next four years, given the pressure that he will likely face from the environmental community?

Bond: My intuition tells me the Obama administration will be pragmatic and deliberate. I also believe that as secretary of ag, Gov. Vilsack will follow that lead. There are areas that the environmental community will focus on and push for policy changes, but in my opinion, great strides have been made in water quality and many other areas. The goal is to continue to feed Americans and export to the world. I believe he will keep that goal as his focus in the coming years.

As governor, Tom Vilsack surrounded himself with a staff that acted as strong gatekeepers. There were many comments from constituents that they could not get in to see him and/or to discuss policy.

As the secretary of ag, I hope he will allow himself to be accessible and open to meetings, discussion, and various points of view to better position agriculture to meet the growing needs for food around the world. I would encourage him to create focus groups of individuals from all facets of agriculture and stop to listen as he keeps his fingers on the pulse of the nation. I would encourage him to be pragmatic and realistic as the administration addresses the economic situation we are facing. I would ask him to put to the test each new regulation that the department makes with the question “will this regulation and/or policy aid in the economic recovery of America?”

Leave a Reply

Legislation Stories

LegislationUSDA: Quick Implementation Of Disaster Assistance Programs A ‘Top Priority’
July 9, 2014
USDA has processed 106,000 payments to farmers in 40 states across the country who suffered livestock and grazing losses between Oct. 2011 and passage of the 2014 Farm Bill. Read More
LegislationTFI Praises White House For Signing WRRDA Into Law
June 11, 2014
The bill streamlines U.S. Army Corps of Engineers projects, prioritizes authorized waterway improvements and provides needed adjustments to the Inland Waterways Trust Fund. Read More
LegislationAg Policy: Plenty Of Fertilizer Issues Ahead
January 2, 2014
From West Fertilizer to the Chesapeake Bay, fertilizer producers and dealers are keeping an eye on several Beltway developments in 2014. Read More
LegislationLack Of Farm Bill Leaves Farmers Facing Uncertainty In 2014
December 13, 2013
With just a few legislative working days remaining in 2013, the likelihood of a new farm bill is waning, leaving farmers in limbo once again. Read More

Top 100 Articles

CropLife 100CHS: Driving Momentum To Help Farmer-Owners Grow
December 11, 2014
CHS Inc., the nation’s leading farmer-owned cooperative and a global energy, grains and foods company, must capture new opportunities to Read More
CropLife 100BRANDT, Verdesian Ink Distribution Agreement
December 9, 2014
The agreement grants BRANDT the exclusive right to sell and market Verdesian’s patented Steric chemistry in the Turf and Ornamental and eastern U.S. ag markets under the BRANDT Reaction product line name. Read More
CropLife 100CropLife 100: The Colors Of Custom Application
December 5, 2014
Although many color spray rigs are in the yards of the nation’s top ag retailers, the majority of them still come in only a few shades. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Invests In Meridian Agriculture Distribution
December 4, 2014
Meridian will provide retailers with supplier-branded products and numerous opportunities to differentiate themselves from their competitors. Read More
CropLife 100CropLife 100: Entering A New Seed Era
December 4, 2014
The seed category has been re-vitalized during the past few years, and more good news (and varieties) are headed the industry’s way in 2015. Read More
CropLife 100CropLife 100: The Depressed State Of Fertilizer
December 3, 2014
Following downright giddy growth earlier this decade, fertilizer sales have fallen back down to earth the past two years. Read More

Latest News

Management2014: Looking Back, Looking Forward
December 22, 2014
Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discuss key emerging issues from the year past that retailers will be watching closely in Read More
FungicidesAlfalfa Expert: Root Rot More Widespread Than Previousl…
December 22, 2014
Once thought of as a wet-soil disease, aphanomyces root rot is more widespread than many realize. Read More
Seed/BiotechKaren Arthur Joins AgriThority As Seed Treatment Produc…
December 19, 2014
Prior to joining AgriThority, Arthur directed research and development programs, overseeing laboratory and field research, to build the Valent U.S.A. seed treatment portfolio. Read More
EquipmentJohn Deere To Sell Crop Insurance Business
December 19, 2014
Deere & Co. has reached a definitive agreement to sell its crop insurance business, subject to regulatory approval, to Farmers Mutual Hail Insurance Co. of Iowa. Read More
Crop InputsNufarm Fills Regulatory VP Position
December 18, 2014
Nufarm announced today that Rob Schwehr has been promoted to the position of Vice President of Innovation & Regulatory Affairs for Nufarm Americas. Read More
Seed/BiotechReport: China Approves Viptera Corn, U.S. Officials Awa…
December 17, 2014
Chinese authorities have informed some agriculture industry officials the government has approved U.S. imports of a type of genetically modified corn developed by Syngenta. Read More
FertilizerMonty’s Plant Food Brings In New Sales Rep
December 16, 2014
Monty's Plant Food Company has hired Warren Kearns as its newest Sales Representative for the South Carolina area. Read More
EquipmentHagie Wins 2014 CropLife IRON Product Of The Year Award
December 15, 2014
The self-propelled sprayer maker has a hit on its hands with the new STS Series model. Read More
Syngenta
Seed/BiotechSyngenta Sees China Approving Contentious GMO Corn Soon
December 15, 2014
Syngenta will make an announcement when it receives official documentation from China that Agrisure Viptera corn, known as MIR 162, has been cleared for import. Read More
Crop InputsVerdesian Life Sciences Names Vice President Of Communi…
December 15, 2014
Amy Bugg will oversee the execution of all promotional strategies for the corporate brand and the complete product portfolio. Read More
StewardshipFarmers, Retailers Attend 4R Certification 4U Workshop
December 15, 2014
More than 160 farmers and ag retailer attended the “4R Certification 4U” workshop December 12 to learn more about the 4Rs of nutrient stewardship, water quality research in the area and cost-sharing opportunities. Read More
Matt Hopkins10 Best New Agriculture Apps For 2015
December 15, 2014
These new agriculture apps are certain to help ag professionals do their jobs more efficiently in 2015 and beyond. Read More
ManagementARA Learnings, Retail Buying Intentions: Welcome To Cro…
December 12, 2014
This informal video program puts news and events effecting retailers into context, and features Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj. Read More
Seed/BiotechMonsanto Herbicide-Tolerant Technology Closer To Commer…
December 12, 2014
The final EIS moves Monsanto one step closer to the introduction of Bollgard II XtendFlex cotton and Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans, paving the way to provide access to dicamba-tolerant soybeans and cotton. Read More
Seed/BiotechUSDA Issues Final Environmental Impact Statement On Her…
December 12, 2014
The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is issuing a final environmental impact statement on varieties of cotton and soybeans that have been genetically engineered for resistance to several herbicides, including the one known as dicamba. Read More
CropLife 100CHS: Driving Momentum To Help Farmer-Owners Grow
December 11, 2014
CHS Inc., the nation’s leading farmer-owned cooperative and a global energy, grains and foods company, must capture new opportunities to Read More
LegislationARA Applauds CFATS Passage Prior To Holiday Adjournment
December 11, 2014
The streamlined bill provides a four-year authorization of the CFATS program and guidance to DHS on key issues of chemical facility security Read More
Seed/BiotechBayer CropScience’s ILeVO Approved By EPA
December 11, 2014
EPA has approved ILeVO, the only seed treatment that protects the root system against infections caused by the Sudden Death Syndrome fungus and has activity against dangerous nematodes. Read More