EU Commissioner Gets First-Hand Look at U.S. Farming
Following their joint session USDA’s Agricultural Outlook Forum on Feb. 24, Secretary Tom Vilsack and European Union Agriculture Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski traveled to a family-owned and operated grain and vegetable farm in Carroll County, Md., so the Commissioner could learn more about U.S. agriculture and its commitment to climate-smart, sustainable production.
The visited Lippy Brothers Farms, where four generations of the Lippy family grow their crops using a variety of conservation, nutrient management, and precision agriculture practices to preserve and improve soil, water, and air quality and wildlife habitat. Lippy Brothers also has an export operation, which serves as a driver for economic growth and global market access for producers in the region. The family got into the export business when they and their fellow producers needed an outlet to sell their crop after the Port of Baltimore closed its soy loading facility.
While at the farm, the Secretary and Commissioner engaged in a panel discussion with farm owner and co-founder Donald Lippy and operations manager Brad Rill. Also joining them were representatives from organizations that received grants through USDA’s Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities: John Jansen, representing the United Soybean Board and Farmers for Soil Health, and Lars Dyrud, CEO of the soil sensing company Earth Optics. Numerous local producers and agricultural and conservation leaders were also in attendance.
The panelists provided insight into the challenges U.S. farmers face in balancing sustainability and profitability, and Secretary Vilsack highlighted USDA’s efforts to support American producers through voluntary, incentive-based, market-focused programs, including the Partnerships initiative. The Secretary also underscored the importance of science-based policymaking to ensure that producers have access to technological innovations that will enable them to maximize production while minimizing their environmental impact.
Commissioner Wojciechowski was particularly appreciative to hear from working farmers, telling Donald Lippy, “Hearing from you is additional confirmation that we need to be cooperating and sharing information and practices. We are headed in the same direction and farmers need to be in the discussion.”