LOUDON, N.H. | Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack joined Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen at a hilltop farm here Tuesday to tout new federal grants.
"We have one of the highest percentages in the country of our farmers engaging directly with consumers who buy their products, and the whole farm-to-table movement has been very influential, I think, in encouraging people to ... make sure that they buy much as they can directly from the farm," Shaheen said.
Vilsack announced $25 million in grants to farmers who turn their raw goods into finished products.
In the case of this town's Miles Smith Farm, that's a new burger made of a mixture of pork and beef.
"It's a combination, and the reason you combine it is to take the flavor characteristics and the juiciness of both," Vilsack said. "This is a product that can be sold, obviously in local grocery stores, it's going to take off. I have no doubt about that."
The small gathering of farmers and state and federal officials and the accompanying press conference were closed to the public. A USDA spokesman said that was not unusual for such announcements.
So, was this particular announcement alongside a vulnerable senator intended to be official business, or a campaign stop?
"It's been a while since I've been involved in a campaign, but normally at campaign events, people donate to come to the event. Here ... we're announcing resources that we're, that we're dedicating to an opportunity here. There are obviously a number of places that I could be, but the reality is, wherever I am, there's probably going to be a political race at some point in time," Vilsack said. "Obviously, I can't go to a place ... without that question being asked."
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