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Former Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack coming back in Biden administration

In this Jan. 31, 2020 file photo, former United States Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack...
In this Jan. 31, 2020 file photo, former United States Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack speaks at a campaign stop for Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden at the LOFT on Jefferson, in Burlington, Iowa. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)(KSFY)
Published: Dec. 10, 2020 at 7:10 AM CST
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - He’s coming back. Former Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who served as Ag Secretary for 8 years in the Obama Administration is once again going to lead the USDA in the new Biden Administration. Vilsack is a former Iowa governor and since leaving the USDA he has been President and CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council. The New York Times and Washington Post were the first to report on Vilsack’s nomination.

It looks like a he said she said situation between the U.S. and Canada over dairy quotas. Earlier this week U.S. trade officials told their counterparts in Canada that the U.S. has filed a grievance over how Canada was administering tariff rate quotas on dairy. But so far those U.S. officials haven’t given any specifics on what their concerns are. Canadian officials have responded that they are in full compliance with the rules of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement and that they have done nothing wrong. By rules of the agreement Canada will have 15 days to make a formal response to any U.S. complaints.

The new fiscal year, which started on October 1st, is off to a good start for U.S. agricultural product exports. Our foreign sales during the month were $15.13 billion. That’s the third highest monthly export total we’ve had since the mid-70s. And with ag imports at $11.62 billion for the month, it gave us a positive balance of trade in ag products of just over 3 and a half billion dollars for October. For the entire fiscal year of 2021, USDA economists are projecting a positive balance of trade for agriculture of about $15 billion. For the 2020 fiscal year our positive balance of trade in agricultural products was $2.65 billion.

It looks like virtual meetings will continue at least through next spring. The committee that organizes judging events for FFA students across the state has decided all spring judging contests will be held virtually in 2021. That includes district and state contests held at UW campuses in Madison, River Falls and Platteville as well as at Technical colleges across the state. No dates have yet been set for those contests but the committee said the decision was made to keep the students safe during the Coronavirus pandemic.

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