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Ag Sec. Vilsack: Purdue Extension Data Could Help Fight Child Poverty

Charlotte Tuggle

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has wrapped up a two-day visit to Purdue.

He says a mountain of data the school has collected on rural communities, many of them agrarian in nature, may help the government better target solutions to problems such as child poverty.

“The ability of Purdue to help us identify the common characteristics of counties and regions where child poverty is high is going to give us the ability to focus government resources more effectively at trying to address that issue,” Vilsack says.

Vilsack spent Monday and Tuesday touring classes and labs at Purdue and learning about some 50,000 pages of data Purdue Extension has collected on rural challenges.

He says the data could identify previously unseen trends in rural areas.

“I think we have a tendency to think of these communities and these areas in isolation and look at them as single communities," he says. "But I’m sure there are common characteristics. And if we understood those common characteristics, we’d be able to say ‘Well geez that program that we’ve been using forever, that’s not going to work, because that’s not addressing the fundamental problem that these communities are suffering from.’”

Vilsack says his department has given $119 million to Purdue to fund research since he’s been in office.

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