By Jon H. Harsch

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

Washington, Oct. 17 – In a final-weeks surge to sway voters, with early voting already under way and in recognition of the importance of rural districts, the Obama administration is joining endangered politicians out on the hustings. Agriculture Sec. Tom Vilsack kicks off his week Monday with a roundtable session with local agricultural leaders in Darlington, SC, followed by visiting cotton picking and ginning operations 30 miles up the road in Bennettsville, then completing his South Carolina day with a second roundtable in nearby Dillon. On Tuesday, Vilsack heads 50 miles north for the 14th annual Agricultural Appreciation dinner in Elizabethtown, NC.

USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan will be doing much of the same this week. On Monday, she'll visit the Ollin Farm in Longmont, CO to highlight USDA's beginning farmers and ranchers programs, then trek 70 miles East to Wiggins, one of the beneficiaries of USDA's Water & Environmental Program grants. Tuesday, Merrigan addresses the Idaho Hunger and Food Insecurity Summit in Boise, ID.

Republicans will be busy as well. The Republican National Committee has signed up Sarah Palin as the star attraction at the RNC's “2010 Victory Rally” in Orlando, FL Saturday, Oct. 23. Following the RNC's Oct 16 rally with Palin in Anaheim, CA, the Orlando rally, Palin says, is “to kickoff our Party’s final push to victory” in order to “bring conservative leadership back to America.”

Thursday, Sec. Vilsack will be back in DC for what's billed as “a major speech on biofuels” at the National Press Club.

Also in DC, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk meets Wednesday with National Corn Growers Association President Bart Schott to discuss trade issues.

President Obama will also continue reaching out this week. After hosting the White House Science Fair featuring renewable energy, touting better educational opportunities for Hispanics and discussing security challenges in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Obama heads out Wednesday to help struggling Democrats first in Portland and Seattle, then in San Francisco and Los Angeles. On Friday, Obama will be praising Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in Las Vegas. On Saturday, it's on to Minneapolis to pitch for Mark Dayton who's hoping to pick up a governorship for the Democrats in a year when the tide is swinging heavily in favor of Republicans.

Vice President Biden will be on the road this week too, first in Allentown, PA, then Vancouver, WA Tuesday at a rally for Sen. Patty Murray, followed by helping out Sen. Barbara Boxer in San Francisco and Sen. Reid in Reno, then back to Maryland to boost Gov. Martin O’Malley's re-election bid.

USDA’s Economic Research Service & National Agricultural Statistics Service reports:

  • Monday, October 18, Aquaculture Data, Catfish Processing, Crop Progress

  • Tuesday, October 19, Weather-Crop Summary, Milk Production

  • Wednesday October 20, Feed Grains Database, Wheat Data, Broiler Hatchery

  • Thursday, October 21, Catfish Feed Deliveries

  • Friday, October 22, Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Outlook; Dairy Products Prices; Livestock Slaughter; Cattle on Feed; Chickens and Eggs; Cold Storage; Peanut Prices

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