Attention Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack: Listen to those you represent
By Jennifer Carrico
Allow me to introduce myself. I am a fourth-generation cattle producer from central Iowa. You know, the state you were governor of for two terms.
I am passionate about my agriculture roots and want nothing more than for my children to have the same opportunities in agriculture that I have had for the past 39 years. You see, growing up on a diversified farm that has been in the family for over 150 years has taught me valuable life lessons that kids growing up in the city don't have the opportunity to learn.
I've learned a strong work ethic, the value of the life cycle, the importance of completing a task, and the value of the land. I grew up on a cattle and crop farm not too far from the office where you once resided.
Having said all of that, maybe you can understand why I'm upset with the comments you made at the recent American Farm Bureau Federation convention.
"And, frankly, those who are engaged in constructive engagement, they shouldn't be faulted for doing so. Now, I know that there are not too many fans of the Humane Society in this room, but egg producers thought it was in their best interest to avoid 50 different referendums, 50 different sets of rules, so they sat down with folks and they reached common ground. After all, isn't that what we're asking our Congress to do?
Isn't that what we're asking our political leaders to do, to sit down and make common cause? I think the egg producers have the right idea. Now, the issues may be different for different types of producers, but we need to be constructively engaged at all times in conversations. We may not find agreements, but I think we will substantially reduce those who oppose farming and substantially reduce the reach of those, and hopefully be able to get enough proactive activity that results in a five-year bill."
I personally do not think it is constructive to engage in conversations with organizations that base their arguments on fiction, not fact. Their mission has nothing to do with improving animal agriculture, but instead to put the industry out of business.
Furthermore, I find it very interesting that your wife, Christie Vilsack, accepted $1,000 from the Humane Society of the United States in her failed campaign for Congress. HSUS also spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in attack ads to try to get her opponent, Steve King, beat in that election. These were the same ads that four major Iowa television stations (KCAU-ABC in Sioux City, KCCI-CBS in Des Moines, WHO-TV-NBC in Des Moines and WOI-ABC in Des Moines) pulled off the air due to its misleading and false allegations.
Sec. Vilsack, is this a group that we livestock and crop farmers and ranchers want to sit down with? Do you think that would really benefit us? Or is this more about political motives?
Sec. Vilsack, you are supposed to be the No. 1 advocate for the family farmer and rancher in our nation as our U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. That means you need to support all of agriculture--livestock, crop and produce farmers and ranchers. These are the people who provide food, fiber, fuel and jobs for people across our country and around the world.
I hope that you will realize HSUS is not a friend of agriculture, nor do they have the animals in their best interest. They are not even a friend of our pets, since less than one percent of their budget actually goes to animal shelters. I'm not saying that compromise is bad, but compromising with an extremist group who wants to put all of animal agriculture out of business is not a good idea.
So, Sec. Vilsack, I really think you need to reassess your thoughts on this group--for what's best for the farmers and ranchers who you represent.
Fourth generation cattle producer from Iowa
Editorial note: This is a copy of a letter Field Editor Jennifer Carrico sent to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.
Jennifer Carrico can be reached by phone at 515-833-2120, or by email at email@example.com.