Harrington's Sort & Cull
John Harrington DTN Livestock Analyst

Friday 09/07/12

Vilsack's Moment in the Sun

When U.S. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack spoke to inattentive Democrats late Wednesday, he must have felt like a duck out of water.

I imagine a good number of tired delegates took the opportunity to take a seventh inning stretch, filling their stomachs and rearranging underwear before a long night of scheduled heavy hitters

Let's face it: The USDA is not typically considered the smoke-filled backroom of national politics.

Prior to 1920, the first census that documented more people in cities than on farms, the secretary of agriculture was probably a standard fixture at the party-in-power's presidential convention.

But with citizens of agriculture now representing a mere 15% of the total voting pool, inviting the USDA chief to throw in his two-cents probably seems a little silly to planners and power-brokers looking for a national victory.

Vilsack no doubt owes his moment in the sun (partial shade) to his home state of Iowa, that critical battleground with 6 electoral votes teetering between blue and red.

If a well-spoken dogcatcher was capable of tipping the presidential balance in Iowa, you can bet that either party would have found room for him and his flea-bitten captives on the convention dais.

Furthermore, the Democratic machine's desire to land Iowa as a blue state also explains why the secretary partially used his 15 minutes (would you believe 4?) of political fame to extol the virtues and progress of biofuels.

"President Obama has a detailed plan for a new rural economy: more support for small businesses making, creating and innovating; more investment in the production of bio-fuels and other bio-materials; more trade and more markets."

At one point, Vilsack noted there was not a high-profile rural speaker at the Republican convention, dutifully implying that the other side thought little about agricultural concerns.

Although I didn't think the general presentation and production values at Tampa were as good as those displayed at Charlotte, Republican strategists probably made the right call in keeping ag topics to a bare minimum.

After all, most farm states are already deeply planted in the red column. The risk of further preaching to a free-market choir filled with pork-producing tenors and cattle-feeding basses just wasn't worth it.

Not only does "red" go far in describing the general political allegiance of this group, the crimson color also signals hot rage at the artificial strength of feed costs on one hand and the disastrous hue of livestock feeding ink on the other.

Prompting such a discussion in the middle of the Republican love fest would have accomplished nothing at best and might have been counterproductive (i.e., in terms of winning Iowa) at worse.

If Tom Vilsack as a boy ever dreamed of addressing a presidential convention in the 21st century on matters of agriculture, he probably picked the right party.



Posted at 3:24PM CDT 09/07/12 by John Harrington
Comments (3)
GOP strategists thought that an 86 year old man talking to an empty chair was more important then addressing Ag! But you are right, they don't need to Ag because they already have them bagged, despite record grain prices Romney is a White guy!
Posted by Jay Mcginnis at 7:47AM CDT 09/09/12
Talking to an empty chair is sort of like reading some blog comments.
Posted by Bonnie Dukowitz at 5:46AM CDT 09/11/12
The Machines will win. Anything resembling the smaller independent American Farmer, Rural Community or Family Business-you know, the foundation for the "American Dream" is being sold out. GOP, Dems, Tea Party-different shows same beneficiaries. If we keep playing into the highly manipulative "Us and Them" Mentality these folks keep promoting, the Machines will take it all. There really is only ONE American Farming Industry, like the vision the founding Fathers had for this nation, that is made up of many diverse parts united into one strong whole. IF, instead of fighting and denigrating each other, this core were to by united and whole once more, who then, would be denying such a United Front it's Destiny?
Posted by Ric Ohge at 9:56AM CDT 09/13/12
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