SDFU delegation hears from all-star speakers

SDFU delegation hears from all-star speakers Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi were just two of the several high profile political figures who addressed the National Farmers Union annual convention at Washington, DC, on Monday, March 9. The South Dakota delegation heard what those leading our country think about the future of agriculture.  "This was an amazing lineup of speakers," said South Dakota Farmers Union (SDFU) President Doug Sombke. "They laid out their plans for the future, and we're excited about the direction that the new administration is taking."  Secretary Vilsack addressed the goals of the Obama Administration for the next four years when it comes to the United States Department of Agriculture. Vilsack said they will focus on issues such as school nutrition and renewable fuels. Secretary Vilsack wants to see the ethanol blend wall increased from 10 percent up to 12 percent, and eventually 20 percent ethanol.  Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi focused her address mostly on the ailing economy and where agriculture fits into the solution. She highlighted provisions in the American Recover and Reinvestment Act that will benefit the rural economy.  South Dakota Congresswoman Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-SD) took part in a discussion about renewable energy during the morning session. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), joined Rep. Herseth Sandlin in the discussion. The three officials said they're working to enhance the use of wind energy in their respective states, and working on a national level to make it easier for the wind energy industry to expand. They also discussed ethanol, and expanding the use of higher blends. They also discussed the future of the renewable fuels industry when it comes to the Obama Administration's economic stimulus plan.  Other speakers included Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), who is chairwoman of the House Agriculture-FDA Appropriations Subcommittee, Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN) who is chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, and Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) who is chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee. "I believe the answers to the challenges facing our country today lie with those who live, work and raise their families in rural America. Hearing today's speakers acknowledge that was a real treat for Farmers Union," NFU President Tom Buis said. The official South Dakota delegation is made up of seven people from around the state who are voting members during National Farmers Union policy discussion, as well as nine other South Dakotans made up of SDFU members and staff. The South Dakota group met with members of the state's congressional delegation later in the day.

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