WASHINGTON, July 28, 2016 - Hillary Clinton is set to give the speech of her life tonight after getting a full-throated endorsement from the man she wants to replace. President Obama last night hailed Clinton as a fighter, stateswoman, public servant and this patriot. 

Obama delivered a slashing critique of Donald Trump, calling him a “self-declared savior” and saying that last week’s GOP convention was neither Republican nor conservative. 

Obama also made a veiled pitch to voters in the heartland, suggesting Trump was out of step with the values of Kansas, the native state of Obama’s mother. Obama said he learned from his grandparents that Kansans “didn’t like show-offs” and “didn’t admire braggarts or bullies.” 

Vilsack gets VIP seating with Bill Clinton Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack got a prime seat last night for Obama’s address, seated next to the nominee’s spouse, former President Bill Clinton. Read into that what you will, but there continues to be speculation that Vilsack could wind up as chief of staff in a Clinton White House.


For much of this week, Vilsack has been hopping around Philadelphia, making the case to various audiences that Donald Trump is unacceptable as a president and that rural areas will be critical in the presidential race. 
Vilsack: Rural areas critical to Clinton. Nowhere did he make the case more emphatically than to a event with agribusiness representatives at the Urban League of Philadelphia, an historic downtown club.

The event was supposed to be off the record. But Vilsack gave Agri-Pulse permission to quote his remarks. “It’s important to reduce the (Republican) margins in rural areas,” Vilsack told the gathering that included former Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman. “We can’t afford to lose 90-10, 80-20 or 70-30 and expect to win these battleground states. We have got to engage people in conversations about rural America.”

Vilsack said he’s never been worried about the fate of the country with previous Republican candidates. But he said this time is different. “Mr. Trump is not prepared to be president of the United States,” Vilsack said. “He will put us at risk. He will put our children at risk. He will put our grandchildren at risk. Never, never in my lifetime have we had this stark a choice.”

Vilsack, a native of Pennsylvania, has appeared to at least three agriculture-focused events this week and also took personal time to deliver his message to a gathering of Teamsters yesterday. Today, he’ll speak to the delegates from Iowa and Wisconsin.

Iowa farmers helping Clinton. As we’ve reported, the Trump campaign also sees rural areas as key to winning states such as Iowa, Pennsylvania and Ohio. To that end, Trump campaign officials have said they are organizing an advisory council on agricultural and rural issues. The council will have a two-fold purpose of outreach and fundraising. 

The Clinton campaign appears to have a more informal advisory council. The names have not been released, but Iowa farmer Bruce Rowher told Agri-Pulse that he is part of that advisory team along with Pam Johnson, another Iowa producer who is a former president of the National Corn Growers Association.

Rohwer and Johnson are both in Philadelphia this week, along with the current NCGA president, Chip Bowling, a Maryland producer. 

Grower outreach got Hoyer GMO vote. Bowling has been attending a series of events with members of Congress, including his own House member, Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer. Hoyer voted this month for legislation that will preempt state GMO labeling laws, and Bowling believes his outreach to Hoyer played a role. ”Over the years they’ve come to understand that I’m not sustainable without those (biotech) traits,” Bowling said. 

Obama expected to sign GMO bill Friday. President Obama apparently is waiting until after the convention is over today to sign the biotech bill. The measure was sent to the White House July 19, and officials with the National Milk Producers Federation say they expect Obama to sign the bill Friday. The White House has been mum about the timing, but signing the bill before - or during - the convention could have further inflamed supporters of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. 

Two years not likely enough to write GMO rule. Officially, USDA will have just two years to write the rule necessary to implementing the national disclosure standard the legislation requires. But Clay Detlefsen, a senior vice president for the milk producers federation, says the rule will likely be delayed because of the complexity of the bill and the prospects for lawsuits. 

SD farmer reaching out to Sanders supporters. Ann Tornberg, a dairy producer from southeastern South Dakota who chairs her state Democratic Party, will be representing her state at a White House briefing on economic issues today. Tornberg says she hopes to get a chance to talk about the importance of trade. Tornberg says she’s trying to help supporters of Bernie Sanders understand why exports are critical to agriculture. 

Farm Bureau leader recalls Trump call. American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall told FFA leaders from around the country last night that he’s unhappy with the tone of the presidential race. But he said he’s seen the better side of some of the candidates. 

Duvall recalled that shortly after his election in January, Donald Trump called to congratulate him and talk about some of the issues facing agriculture. Trump was fascinated with the name “Zippy,” and said he’d never forget it. 

“I might see him again,” Duvall quipped. “Maybe I’ll have a chance to test him on that.”

Jim Webster, Sara Wyant, Bill Tomson and Spencer Chase contributed to this report. 



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