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ACTUALITIES – Secretary Vilsack Comments On Trade, Biofuels, Food Security
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack addressed the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. on a variety of issues including the upcoming G-20 Summit, DOHA, biofuels and food security.
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ACTUALITIES – Secretary Vilsack Addresses National Press Club
INFO: Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack addressed the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. on a variety of issues including the upcoming G-20 Summit, DOHA, biofuels and food security. (June 13, 2011)
1-Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says the upcoming G-Twenty meeting will give participating nations a chance to make worldwide agricultural systems more transparent in order to encourage food security. (:32)
We’ll establish priorities; agree on ways to increase the effectiveness of international agricultural systems, information and investments. I think it’s significant that the G-twenty leaders have singled out the importance of food security and are grappling together with how to address the problems of high food prices. I know that they’re interested in long term solutions to improve productivity and I’m hopeful that we’ll have constructive conversations about additional thoughts about how to meet the demand, the growing demand, for food over time.
2- Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says corn-based ethanol does not deserve the blame for rising global food prices. (:21)
The truth of the matter is that corn-based ethanol does not deserve the scapegoat reputation that some folks often attempt to assign to it. During the great run-up in food and commodity prices in Two Thousand and Seven and Two Thousand and Eight, American biofuel production played only a minor role, accounting for about ten percent of the total costs in food prices.
3- Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack answered a question regarding the U.S. and Europe lowering agricultural subsidies enough to satisfy China and India and to allow a restarting of the DOHA Round. (:44)
I think the challenge with DOHA is not so much America’s willingness to consider reductions to the support structure and system. I think that that’s fairly obvious that in our fiscal condition and circumstances that’s likely to happen. The problem is that there is not a corresponding willingness on the part of China and India to be definite and concrete about how open their markets will be. As we look at a DOHA round and as we look at any trade agreement, we want to make sure that it’s fair and balanced. We can quantify with great specificity what we’re willing to do relative to our support structures and systems. We need the same kind of specificity from China, India, Brazil and other countries in terms of how open their markets will be to make sure that we’re getting a fair deal.
4- Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack comments on food safety in light of the E. coli outbreak in Europe. (:17)
What’s happened in Europe is a wake-up call. It requires us to be continually vigilant about food safety. It’s an everyday responsibility. And if you relax for a moment it can cause devastating consequences.
5- Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says U.S. consumers would be hurt if the domestic biofuel industry did not exist. (:16)
Everyone in this country would be paying on average about ninety cents a gallon more for their gas. It gives us an opportunity for competition. It gives us an opportunity for innovation. It gives us an opportunity for job growth and an opportunity for rural communities.
6- Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says reaching a high level of domestic biofuel production will help the U.S. economy and energy stability. (:33)
When we reach the thirty six billion gallon threshold, which Congress has set as where we need to be within the next decade or so, we will reduce our reliance on foreign oil by about seventeen percent, which just happens to be the percentage that we currently import from the middle eastern countries, an area of the world which is unstable. That instability has reflected itself in the cost at the pump. If we want to stabilize that cost, stabilize energy costs in this country, provide more economic opportunity, then we obviously have to have a robust commitment to biofuels.
7- Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says establishing an effective domestic biofuel industry is a national priority. (:33)
Does that mean continuing subsidies forever? No. Does it mean that they have to be continued until we reach the thirty six billion gallons? No. But I think we have to be very careful about the way in which we go about reducing those subsidies. And I think the time has come for us to maybe redirect some of that support towards helping the industry provide more convenient supply and encouraging Detroit to consider the very small investment of a hundred to a hundred and fifty dollars a car to make every single vehicle coming off the line a flexible fuel vehicle.
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