Q&A: U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack

  • Updated: October 9, 2012 - 8:39 PM

U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, former Iowa governor and a pheasant hunter, discussed the future of the federal Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) with the Star Tribune this week:


Q Is there a chance CRP will disappear in the next Farm Bill, assuming we get one?

A I don't think so. There is reasonable likelihood the number of acres will decline a bit over time, but I don't see a total elimination of the program. It's too popular and too important.

Q The bill passed by the Senate would lower CRP acreage to 25 million from about 30 million. Could it be cut further?

A Some will argue for significantly larger cuts. That's a big issue. When you increase habitat, you increase hunting and fishing opportunities and economic activities in these small rural towns.

Q Record-high commodity prices have, in some cases, made programs like CRP financially less attractive. Can the government pay enough to attract landowners to these programs?

A We did raise rental rates, and they are competitive. We saw robust interest in the general signups. But I think we'll always be challenged to make CRP attractive.

Q Is there bipartisan support for CRP, and is the current logjam due mostly to financial concerns?

A There is bipartisan support for CRP, but Republican leaders have proposed much steeper cuts than Democrats or moderate Republicans. And they didn't want to debate this before the election.

Q Some fear the decline in CRP acres will spell an overall decline in wildlife habitat.

A If you focus on one program, you may draw the wrong conclusion. I think the best is yet to come.

Q What are the chances Congress will act during the lame duck session after the election and before Jan. 1, when the new Congress takes over?

A I'm hopeful, but concerned. As difficult as any Farm Bill is, it's more complicated this time. They allowed it to be wrapped up in a larger conversation of tax policy and deficit reduction. That makes it much more difficult.

Q Do you plan to pheasant hunt this fall?

A We tragically lost our dog, Rosie [a black Lab], this year, and my wife [Christie Vilsack] is running for Congress [in Iowa]. My October is booked. After that, we'll see.


  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

Click here to send us your hunting or fishing photos – and to see what others are showing off from around the region.


Pittsburgh - LP: F. Liriano 0 FINAL
Cincinnati - WP: J. Cueto 4
Tampa Bay - LP: J. Odorizzi 0 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: M. Gonzalez 3
Chicago Cubs - LP: J. Hammel 0 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: M. Tanaka 3
St. Louis - LP: J. Kelly 1 FINAL
Milwaukee - WP: W. Peralta 5
NY Mets - WP: D. Gee 5 FINAL
Arizona - LP: B. McCarthy 2
Atlanta - WP: J. Teheran 1 FINAL
Philadelphia - LP: C. Lee 0
Chicago Cubs - LP: T. Wood 0 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: M. Pineda 2
Cleveland - WP: Z. McAllister 3 FINAL
Detroit - LP: A. Sanchez 2
Washington - WP: D. Storen 6 FINAL
Miami - LP: M. Dunn 3
Seattle - LP: F. Rodney 2 FINAL
Texas - WP: P. Figueroa 3
Boston 2 Top 9th Inning
Chicago WSox 3
Kansas City 4 Bottom 9th Inning
Houston 4
Toronto 0 Postponed
Minnesota 0
Oakland 1 Top 4th Inning
LA Angels 1
Colorado 1 Top 5th Inning
San Diego 1
Los Angeles 0 Top 4th Inning
San Francisco 1
Chicago 86 FINAL
Charlotte 91
Indiana 101 FINAL
Orlando 86
Atlanta 111 FINAL
Milwaukee 103
Dallas 105 FINAL
Memphis 106
Detroit 111 FINAL
Oklahoma City 112
Houston 100 FINAL
New Orleans 105
LA Lakers 113 FINAL
San Antonio 100
Brooklyn 85 FINAL
Cleveland 114
Philadelphia 100 FINAL
Miami 87
Utah 136 FINAL
Minnesota 130
Washington 118 FINAL
Boston 102
Toronto 92 FINAL
New York 95
Golden State 43 2nd Qtr 8:53
Denver 32
LA Clippers 34 2nd Qtr 9:36
Portland 41
Phoenix 32 2nd Qtr 7:28
Sacramento 30
Montreal 5 FINAL(OT)
Tampa Bay 4
Columbus 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh 4
Dallas 0 2nd Prd 17:13
Anaheim 3
Philadelphia 1 FINAL
Red Bull New York 2
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters





question of the day

Poll: Should the lake where the albino muskie was caught remain a mystery?

Weekly Question