MANHATTAN, Kan. (WIBW) -- Taking the same stage as former presidents and Nobel Prize Winners, our country’s Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack delivered the prestigious Landon Lecture at Kansas State University’s McCain Auditorium Tuesday.
Vilsack was passionate about the importance of agriculture in America, refuting a recent Yahoo article he came across that listed agriculture at number one on a list of the most useless college degrees.
"It's an imperative degree. It’s a fundamental degree. It is a significant degree especially for this country at this time... Don’t take for granted the fact that American producers can produce enough for all of us to eat. Eighty five percent of all of the food we consume is produced here in the United States... Those folks have allowed agriculture to be the second most productive part of our economy," he told the crowd in the packed auditorium. Students, faculty, alumni and members of the public attended the lecture.
Vilsack says that agriculture is responsible for one out of every 12 jobs in America and he challenged students to be ambassadors for the industry and the vital role it plays as the world's population continues to expand and the demand for food skyrockets.
"To the young people that are here, I leave you with a challenge. You have this unbelievable opportunity to reacquaint people in this country with the extraordinary work of American ranchers, farmers and producers. You have this enormous, exciting, challenging future where you not can just reshape agriculture, not just gain acceptance of these great science breakthroughs that will allow us to feed the world and our own country, not just tour own capacity to make us less reliant on countries that don’t like us for our energy but you have the capacity to reshape the economy so that it’s sustainable, environmentally friendly, creates jobs and brings renewed faith, interest, hope and opportunity to rural parts of this country.. The reason this country is great and the reason this country has an extraordinary future began, continues and will always be because we have farm families.," Vilsack added.
In a press conference with reporters after the lecture, Vilsack said that he will continue to advocate for the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) in Manhattan. He says the facility is a national priority that will help identify threats to the multi-billion dollar agriculture industry.
"I think our big challenge is convincing folks that this is in the national interest. It’s not just a parochial facility that serves a particular that serves the need of one particular state or university, that it actually has national significance," he said.