US agriculture secretary visits Penn State

It’s only logical that U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue would kick off a tour of the commonwealth at Penn State. After all, it is Pennsylvania’s only land-grant university. During a visit to campus Wednesday morning, Perdue met with students and faculty, including university President Eric Barron; toured the College of Agricultural Science facilities and the United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service Pasture Systems and Watershed Management Facility; and even got a behind-the-scenes look at Berkey Creamery. And, of course, he didn’t miss out on the chance to enjoy the famous ice cream.

“Penn State has some exciting things going on here regarding not only agriculture but life sciences and health and how agriculture relates to the health of not only America but the world — not just with food security, food production, but in many other innovative ways,” Perdue said.

He described the work being done at the ARS Pasture Systems and Watershed Management Facility as finding “real world solutions for challenges.” Peter Kleinman, research leader for the USDA Agricultural Research Service at Penn State, said it was an “honor” and “thrill” to explain the nature of their work to Perdue. “We emphasized things that were really focused on different technologies that we’re trying to bring to bear, either from the standpoint of water quality and the environment or from agricultural productivity,” Kleinman said.

The purpose of Perdue’s day trip to Pennsylvania was to roll out the USDA’s Farm Bill and legislative principles for 2018. USDA developed a set of principles to share with Congress for consideration as legislators craft the Farm Bill and other legislation that affects agriculture. The principles are outlined in a four-page document, which states its goal as being “to be responsive to the American people and improve services while reducing regulatory burdens on USDA customers.”

As an example of research, education and economics principle, Perdue cited that the employees who work in the USDA Agricultural Research Facility are also adjunct employees with Penn State. “It’s an interdisciplinary type of effort where we learn from one another and we teach one another to solve the biggest challenges in the world — that’s how do we feed a growing global population,” he said.

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