U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue stressed the importance of agricultural education and the need for more young people to get involved in agriculture policy during a visit to the National FFA convention in Indianapolis Wednesday.
“These young people are the ones I will exhort and implore to communicate and be aggressive advocates for truth,” he said.
FFA member Tess Seibel, from Virginia, agreed with Perdue. She says misconceptions around the food production process is one of the biggest challenges facing farmers today.
“FFA is helping us and teaching us how to be advocates and have conversations,” she says. “Even if they may feel uncomfortable, about those misconceptions.”
Seibel says, in particular, she wants the general public to have a better understanding of genetically modified crops and artificial insemination.
In remarks to reporters, Secretary Perdue also said negotiations on the North American Free Trade Agreement, which has been a boon to U.S. farmers—notably Hoosier grain farmers—are proceeding slowly but surely.
“These NAFTA negotiations are almost like Congress or state legislatures,” Perdue said. “They can stay there 90 days but most of the stuff gets done in the last five days.”
Perdue also says the agency is still focused on confirming its undersecretaries. Earlier this month, the Senate confirmed former Indiana Department of Agriculture director Ted McKinney as the undersecretary for trade, a newly created post.