Video: US Agriculture Secretary Tours MSU

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STARKVILLE, Miss. (WCBI) – Mississippi State is one of the country’s leading agriculture research universities and on Wednesday, the U-S Agriculture Secretary, Tom Vilsack, paid a visit to the campus.

US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack was at MSU touring the major research projects funded by the USDA. The tour began at the Soil-Plant-Atmosphere Research center.

This SPAR facility is one of only two in the entire country. Scientists are able to control the temperature, water supply and the fertilization of crops for research projects.

“We also develop crop models, computer simulation models, that are being used by the farmers. Also, the policy decision makers, use this for predicting how crops respond in the field conditions. Crop models can be used not only in the present conditions for management purposes but also in the future conditions,” says Raja Reddy, a research professor at the Plant Science Research Center at MSU.

During the tour, Vilsack got a first-hand look at the studies conducted at the Bio Energy Pilot Plant as well as the REACH project.

We had a chance to visit an area that is focusing on climate change and the impact and affect that the temperatures will have and the changing climate will have on agricultural production. This is cutting edge research that’s going to inform not just what goes on here in Mississippi but all across the United States.

The Agriculture Secretary also toured the South Farm where he was briefed on the latest in catfish and beef cattle research. Vilsack also hosted a closed door round table session with MSU students.


*** Official release: STARKVILLE, Miss.—U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Thomas J. “Tom” Vilsack was at Mississippi State Wednesday [Sept. 25] for a tour of campus and briefings on major research projects funded by the Department of Agriculture.

The university conducted nearly $97 million in agriculture-related research during the 2011 fiscal year and has been ranked ninth by the National Science Foundation for research and development expenditures in agricultural sciences among public and private institutions. Consistently in the Top 10 of this category for more than a decade, the 135-year-old land-grant institution also ranks among the Top 50 for humanities. Overall, Mississippi State is ranked 91st among all public and private institutions based on $226.1 million in total FY 2011 research and development expenditures. Nationally, MSU is ranked 53rd in non-medical school R&D expenditures.

Vilsack’s visit included a tour of research projects at the university’s R. R. Foil Plant Science Research Center, also known as North Farm, including a bioenergy pilot plant. He also visited the Leveck Animal Research Center, or South Farm, where he was briefed on research in the areas of water conservation, catfish and beef cattle health. He conducted a roundtable discussion with students prior to having dinner with university and state agriculture leaders.

“We are excited about the opportunity for Secretary Vilsack to see first-hand the ground-breaking research we are conducting at Mississippi State,” said MSU President Mark E. Keenum.

Prior to being named MSU president in late 2008, Keenum served for two years as Under Secretary of USDA, where he provided leadership and oversight for the Farm Service and Risk Management agencies, and Foreign Agricultural Service.

Vilsack, a former two-term Iowa governor, was nominated by President Obama to be the nation’s 30th agriculture secretary in late 2008. He was confirmed by the United States Senate the following January.

For more information about Mississippi State University, see

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