Vilsack also announces trilateral talks with Canada and Mexico.

Joshua Baethge, Policy editor

March 4, 2024

2 Min Read
Michael Regan speaking at Commodity Classic
NEW POSITION: Administrator Michael Regan discusses the new Office of Agriculture and Rural Affairs on March 1 at the Commodity Classic show in Houston.Holly Spangler

A record crowd of more than 11,0000 people descended on Houston last week for the annual Commodity Classic show. Many attendees at the Texas-sized event expected Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to announce new sustainable aviation fuel guidelines during his Friday keynote address. Instead, the Secretary and EPA administrator Michael Regan used the occasion to announce a new effort to address environmental and agricultural concerns.

The EPA is establishing a new Office of Agriculture and Rural Affairs intended to better coordinate environmental stewardships initiatives with efforts to assist producers and rural communities. Regan says it’s an important step that will help solidify EPA’s relationship with the agriculture sector for the future.

“For the first time, my agency EPA is establishing an Office of Agricultural and Rural Affairs to expand engagement beyond anything that we’ve done so far, and to ensure your voices are heard and that your ideas are understood,” Regan told the crowd.

The new office will be led by Rod Snyder who has served as Regan’s senior advisor for agriculture since October 2021.

Shortly after the announcement, American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall said his organization appreciates Regan for creating the new office and recognizing the role farmers and ranchers play in preserving national resources.

“We look forward to working with Rod Snyder as he directs the new office, and we encourage him to collaborate with families in rural America to ensure their voices are heard and they are treated as partners,” Duvall said.

House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member David Scott also weighed in, applauding the Biden administration for elevating the agriculture advisor into the new office. Scott called the decision further evidence that the Biden administration and EPA are serious about working to ensure the health, sustainability and environmental soundless of the nation’s food supply.

“EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan has had an open line of communication with our farmers, and he’s been served well by his Agriculture Advisor Rod Snyder, and the creation of the Office of Agriculture and Rural Affairs is another tangible commitment on behalf of the EPA to ensure that farmers' voices are part of the conversation,” Scott says.

Trilateral talks coming soon

During his remarks, Vilsack also announced he would soon be meeting with his counterpart from Canada and Mexico. The trilateral talks are expected to take place later this month, most likely in Colorado. He says it’s an opportunity to discuss issues of mutual concern. Vilsack added he also plans to raise his concerns regarding Mexico’s bio corn rules and Canada’s dairy market policies.

About the Author(s)

Joshua Baethge

Policy editor, Farm Progress

Joshua Baethge covers a wide range of government issues affecting agriculture. Before joining Farm Progress, he spent 10 years as a news and feature reporter in Texas. During that time, he covered multiple state and local government entities, while also writing about real estate, nightlife, culture and whatever else was the news of the day.

Baethge earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of North Texas. In his free time, he enjoys going to concerts, discovering new restaurants, finding excuses to be outside and traveling as much as possible. He is based in the Dallas area where he lives with his wife and two kids.

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