U.S. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack shared this week three priorities the department is working on now four weeks after the New Year.

1. A “rural extraction economy” concept that Vilsack says contributes to a circular economy and to the department’s goals of creating more competition within meatpacking. He says this concept allows producers to profit both from production and processing.

2. COVID-19 relief payments that have not yet been made to livestock producers. Last year, the department allocated $10 billion in disaster aid payments, with $750,000 set aside for livestock. Because those payments haven’t been made, the secretary says a percentage of them should be going out quickly, “hopefully by this spring”.

3. Trade continues to be a topic of discussion as Vilsack and Trade Ambassador Katherine Tai announced India will now allow U.S. pork imports. The two also said that the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement and Vietnam’s reduction in tariffs have contributed to record export numbers for U.S. ag.

Read more on Vilsack’s priorities here.