Tom Vilsack is preparing to make his first visit to Puerto Rico on June 1.  
WASHINGTON – US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will make his first official visit to Puerto Rico where he will highlight the US Dept. of Agriculture’s (USDA) ongoing commitment to addressing food security and rural opportunity. Since 2009, USDA has invested more than $20 billion in Puerto Rico across various programs including nutrition, infrastructure, housing, farming and ranching, conservation and forestry, and research.
Vilsack’s agenda includes meetings with various officials from the Commonwealth; a visit to a National Forest research station; meetings with local farmers and ranchers; and convening a group of financial leaders focused on finding opportunities for rural investment. Vilsack also will make several announcements to address food security and rural development.

Vilsack also will meet with staff from seven USDA agencies working in the Commonwealth: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS); Agricultural Research Service (ARS); Farm Service Agency (FSA); Food and Nutrition Service (FNS); US Forest Service; Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS); and USDA Rural Development.

On June 1, Vilsack will meet with Gov. Alejandro García Padilla, Senate Majority Leader Eduardo Bhatia, and Speaker of the House of Representatives Jaime R. Perelló Borrás. Those meetings will be followed by a tour the US Forest Service Sabana Field Research Station and El Yunque National Forest to highlight USDA’s key research initiatives in the Caribbean Climate Sub Hub. The agency has established a network of seven regional Climate Hubs and three Sub Hubs to support applied research and provide information to farmers, ranchers, advisors and managers to inform climate-related decision making and region-specific adaptation strategies.

Vilsack is expected to announce a series of additional federal investments in Puerto Rico’s future on June 2. He will meet with farmers, ranchers, producers and agriculture-related businesspeople to gauge the needs and opportunities of Puerto Rico’s agricultural sector. Vilsack will then convene a meeting with a dozen investors, financial leaders, economists and entrepreneurs to discuss rural economic opportunity and the potential to leverage public and private resources for the benefit of Puerto Rico’s residents.

Vilsack is the latest senior Obama Administration official to travel to Puerto Rico, following visits from Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell, Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew, Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert McDonald, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro and Secretary of Education John King earlier this year to urge action by Congress to provide resources the country needs to address its financial crisis, restructure its debt, support reform and enable growth.