This spring, I went to a meeting in Arizona where former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack spoke. He is currently the president and CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC). USDEC represents the global trade interests of U.S. dairy farmers, processors and cooperatives, ingredient suppliers and export traders.
Listening to former Secretary Vilsack speak was incredibly motivating. He is so connected with agriculture, so pro agriculture and dairy. We are really lucky to have such a passionate person in his position to make an impact on global agriculture.
One of the things that former Secretary Vilsack said that still resonates with me months later was when he talked about the American farmer. He said, “We are less than two percent of the U.S. population.” Less than two percent. He went on to say that in the U.S., 28 percent of the workforce is in agriculture and food production. That is over 25 percent of the population that is connected to agriculture in some way. That number is huge!
Often times, we get so caught up in what is directly impacting us — the small radius that surrounds us. Listening to former secretary Vilsack speak really made me “zoom out” and think about the big picture of agriculture and the impact dairy farmers have on the population. It doesn’t matter the farm size, every farmer is employing people (whether it’s directly on the farm or working with a consultant) and making milk that is made into delicious dairy foods, from cheese to ice cream to even powdered milk!
We get so caught up in the small things, especially when so many farmers are struggling. It was a great message to hear former Secretary Vilsack talking about how important U.S. dairy farmers are, not only in our local communities, but around the world. In hard times, it’s important to hear that we matter. We need to continue “zooming out” and seeing the big picture and the impact we have on the world.