US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to Speak at University of Arkansas Tuesday

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack will be the featured speaker Tuesday as part of the Dale and Betty Bumpers Distinguished Lecture Series, hosted by the Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences at the University of Arkansas.

Vilsack will be part of the program, which is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. in the E.J. Ball Courtroom at the UA law school.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture and Vilsack, as chair of the White House Rural Council, are working to drive innovation and build thriving economies in rural communities by working to strengthen services for rural businesses and entrepreneurs.

The USDA said 2009-12 has been the strongest four years in history for agricultural trade, citing new trade agreements with Colombia, South Korea and Panama. The USDA said it has helped increase the number of farmers markets by 67 percent since 2008, and that today there are more than 200 new regional food hubs to help connect farmers with broader regional markets.

"We are all honored that Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack has accepted our invitation and made time in his schedule to serve as the second speaker in our series," Bumpers, a U.S. senator from 1975 to 1999 and governor of Arkansas from 1971 to 1975, said in a news release.

"If you look at the mission of the Bumpers College, and what the secretary and the United States Department of Agriculture are accomplishing, they are a natural fit. Secretary Vilsack is very knowledgeable of agriculture issues and he wants to grow our rural economy while protecting our natural resources and building a healthy food supply for Arkansas and the nation."

Admission is free, but tickets are required. For more information or tickets, contact Trina Holman by April 18 at tfholman@uark.edu or (479) 575-2179.