Some Mississippi State University researchers and students met with U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack when he visited campus on Wednesday to learn about current agricultural research projects and discuss the future of the agriculture industry.
Gregory Bohach, vice president of the Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine, said Vilsack looked at current projects on plant physiology research, biofuels production and beef production, among others. Bohach said the U.S. Department of Agriculture funds much of MSU’s research, so Vilsack’s visit was an important opportunity for MSU to showcase its research efforts in agriculture.
“He was very impressed and made several comments about how State’s heading in the right direction,” Bohach said. “He’s very passionate about agriculture, and we appreciate him coming and learning more about research Mississippi State is doing.”
In addition to meeting with researchers, Bohach said Vilsack participated in a roundtable discussion with a select group of students to discuss ways to solve future problems in the agriculture industry and answer questions.
“Both he and Dr. Keenum talked about how the world population is going to increase to nine billion in (about 30 years from now), so he started off encouraging the students to contribute to the increased population of agriculture in a more sustainable way,” Bohach said. “He told the students how important they would be in molding the future of agriculture.”
Jade Cobern, senior biochemistry major, participated in the roundtable discussion and said the students appreciated the opportunity to ask questions and receive feedback from Vilsack.
“He was really eager to hear the questions we had, and it was important for us to talk to him because he sees our generation as one that will be making an impact on the industry,” Cobern said. “We are the ones who are going to have to deal with that (population) increase and find solutions.”
Sid Salter, director of University Relations, said Vilsack praised MSU’s research as being cutting edge and beneficial not only to Mississippi, but also globally.
“USDA-funded research is an integral part of MSU’s ongoing research efforts,” he said. “I think his visit is a good signal that USDA maintains good confidence in Mississippi State and can expect that support to continue in the future.”