Thursday, February 11, 2010

President Obama & Agriculture

Longtime food policy observers are having a difficult time squaring the Department of Agriculture’s entrenched preference for high-tech industrial agriculture that emphasizes biotechnology and genetically engineered crops with its newfound interest in helping those who favor low-tech ag: small farmers, advocates of organic and local food and champions of sustainability.

When former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack was tapped as agriculture secretary by President Barack Obama, the presumption was that he would lean toward an emphasis on biotech. After all, Vilsack was once named governor of the year by the Biotechnology Industry Organization.

But Vilsack threw the agriculture community a curveball by naming as his deputy Kathleen Merrigan, an outspoken advocate for farm policies that favor conservation and sustainable land use. She drafted the 1990 act that produced federal organic standards.

President Obama agriculture picks sow confusion -

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