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Ag overview

October 1, 2009


Tom Vilsack.

U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack

USDA Secretary Vilsack to talk food policy at the University of Minnesota

By Anne Mason

The U.S. Department of Agriculture oversees a $134 billion portfolio that includes leadership on food, agriculture, natural resources, and rural development. It's appropriate that a former governor—and Midwesterner—would take the helm to steer the nation's food policy. It's also appropriate that he would address these issues and their local implications at the University of Minnesota.

U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will address an audience of students, elected officials, and members of the public at the University at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, October 5. Hosted by the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs and the College of Continuing Education, Vilsack's Freeman Lecture and Great Conversations discussion is a special venture between two University lecture series.

Vilsack's talk, called "Feeding the World: At Home and Abroad," will address many of the challenges facing the world today, including skyrocketing food prices; increased pressure on food programs, such as food stamps; diet and health; and global hunger.

"It's important that we recognize and understand the current crises and how agricultural policy plays a role," says J. Brian Atwood, dean of the Humphrey Institute. Atwood and Dean Allen Levine of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resource Sciences (a cosponsor of the event) will participate in a wide-ranging conversation about these issues with the secretary, followed by a question-and-answer session with the audience.

"The University of Minnesota is at the forefront of agricultural research and has an opportunity to take part in the solution to marry food policy challenges," says Atwood.
 
U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar will introduce Vilsack. "Making sure we have a safe and accessible food supply is one of the top responsibilities of our government," says Klobuchar, who represents Minnesota's interests on the Senate Agriculture Committee. "Secretary Vilsack has been a leader on agricultural and food issues and I am excited that he will be speaking about these important issues at the University of Minnesota's Freeman Lecture."

The Orville Lothrop Freeman Lecture series honors Freeman's lifetime commitment to the University of Minnesota and to public service. The 29th governor of Minnesota, Freeman went on to serve as Secretary of Agriculture in the Kennedy and Johnson Administrations. He cared deeply about world hunger and is credited with creating the food stamp program to provide better nutrition to America's poor.

Great Conversations is produced by the College of Continuing Education. Since its inception in 2002, the lecture series has connected more than 15,000 Minnesotans with thought leaders, risk takers, and peacemakers for energetic conversations that bring issues into sharp focus.

The program is free and open to the public, but tickets are required. Attendees are encouraged to bring a nonperishable food item to help those in need. For tickets, call 612-624-2345 or visit ag discussion.