Skip to Content

Former Agriculture Secretaries Discuss Food Security as National Security, Urge Bipartisan Support for Feed the Future

On February 23, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack kicked off the commemoration of the department’s 150th anniversary at USDA’s 2012 Agricultural Outlook Forum, titled “Moving Agriculture Forward.”

Secretary Vilsack moderated a dynamic plenary panel featuring seven former Secretaries of Agriculture. A recurring theme of the discussion was the importance of food security and its relationship to national security, with many of the panelists remarking on the intrinsic link between the food supply and stable governments.

Senator Mike Johanns (R-NE), who served as Secretary of Agriculture from 2005-2008 under President George W. Bush, said that he is “so convinced about this food security – national security issue, that if there is one thing I could ask all two thousand people who are here to do, it’s to commit to feeding people, whether here or in another part of the world.” He noted that this issue transcends partisan lines, saying that “Voting to provide aid to feed people is just simply the right thing to do,” regardless of one’s political affiliation.

Discussing ways to improve the national and global conversation on agriculture, Former Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman said, “These are very important subjects … What the food and agriculture community do in the world is as important as health security and energy security.” Former Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman went on to note the importance of the research agenda in increasing food security, adding her view that “The President’s Feed the Future initiative is extremely important in this regard to help provide more production in places where people are hungry and supplement it with emergency food aid where necessary.”

The Agricultural Outlook Forum, which was attended by members of the public and private sectors, civil society, and the press, is USDA’s opportunity to share projections on commodities and the latest information on agricultural issues for the coming year. 

Related Stories