Tom Vilsack
Secretary, U.S. Department of Agriculture

The average age of an American farmer is . . . pretty close to 60 years old. So that’s an issue. The good news is, though, we’ve seen an influx of people in their late 20s or early 30s who have expressed an interest in getting in this business, and we have a lot of returning veterans coming out of military service that we think are potentially very interested in getting back to the land. Just a side note, 16 percent of America’s population lives in rural America on those farms or ranches, but they contribute nearly 40 percent of military.

Hungry people oftentimes are angry people. The more we address hunger [abroad], the more secure we will be as a nation and the more secure those nations will be. . . . Just before I came here, I was reading a document that required a certain level of clearance and it was all about improving agriculture in a country that is critical to us. By improving agriculture, we become a safer country here. If you look at some of the unrest in the Middle East, part of it is caused by the high cost of food or the unavailability of food.