Ten Questions With Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack

Food Tank, in partnership with American University, is hosting the 2nd Annual Food Tank Summit in Washington, D.C. on April 20–21, 2016. 

This two-day event will feature more than 75 different speakers from the food and agriculture field. Researchers, farmers, chefs, policymakers, government officials, and students will come together for panels on topics including food waste, urban agriculture, family farmers, farm workers, and more. 

Food Tank recently had the opportunity to speak with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who will be speaking at the summit.

Food Tank: What inspired you to get involved in food and agriculture?

Tom Vilsack: My small town law practice. I represented farmers during the farm crisis in the 1980s and got to know how difficult their lives were, and I became interested in trying to help create opportunities for them to stay in business and maintain their farming operations.

FT: What do you see as the biggest opportunity to fix the food system?

TV: Eliminating food waste.

FT: What innovations in agriculture and the food system are you most excited about?

TV: Precision agriculture, because it has the ability not only to increase food production but also to reduce our reliance on chemicals and pesticides.

FT: Can you share a story about a food hero that inspired you?

TV: The biblical story of the loaves and fishes is a powerful story about food and the power of community to solve what seem to be large, impossible problems. The miracle was that when the baskets were passed, people felt the need to contribute. It reminds us that in a community, we have a responsibility to take care of each other.

FT: What drives you every day to fight for the bettering of our food system?

TV: It’s my job!

FT: What’s the biggest problem within the food system our parents and grandparents didn't have to deal with?

TV: Obesity.

FT: What’s the first, most pressing issue you’d like to see solved within the food system?

TV: Ensuring access to affordable, healthy food for all Americans, in order to address both hunger and obesity.

FT: What is one small change every person can make in their daily lives to make a big difference?

TV: Reduce portion sizes.

FT: What’s one issue within the food system you’d like to see completely solved for the next generation?

TV: Obesity.

FT: What agricultural issue would you like for the next president of the United States to immediately address?

TV: I would like to see more publicly-funded research that allows us to aggressively address the challenges of climate change and agriculture.

To find out more about the event, see the full list of speakers, and purchase tickets, please click HERE. Interested participants who cannot join can also sign up for the livestream HERE.

To join us at Food Tank's São Paulo, Brazil Summit in September 2016, please click HERE. To join us at Food Tank's Sacramento, CA Summit on September 22–23, 2016, please click HERE. To join us at Food Tank's Chicago, IL Summit on November 16–17, 2016, please click HERE

Want to become a sponsor of the Food Tank Summit? Please click HERE

Want to suggest a speaker for one of the Summits? Please click HERE

Want to watch videos from last year's Food Tank Summit? Please click HERE

Sponsors for this year's Food Tank Summit in Washington, D.C. include: Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition, Chaia DC, Chipotle, Clif Bar, D.C. Government, Driscoll's, Edible DC, Elevation Burger, Fair Trade USA, Food and Environment Reporting Network, Global Environmental Politics Program of the School of International Service, Greener Media, Inter Press Service, Leafware, Niman Ranch, Organic Valley, Panera Bread, and VegFund. 

Join the discussion using #FoodTank across Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter!

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