On Thursday morning President-elect Joe Biden made his official selection to become the next U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. Tom Vilsack will now once again be at the helm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. There were nearly a dozen potential candidates that were being discussed up until the official announcement. Vilsack has a long history of experience in agriculture, having also served as Secretary of Agriculture for the entirety of the Obama administration. The selection of Vilsack is being celebrated by several industry groups.
“Tom Vilsack understands that the agriculture sector is far more complex than most people understand,” American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall said in a press release. “He believes in a ‘big tent’ philosophy that supports all types of production and understands the importance of respecting farmers and ranchers as partners worthy of support in the race to achieve sustainability goals.”
Prior to his first tenure as Agriculture Secretary, Vilsack served as the Governor of Iowa from 2000 to 2007. After serving eight years as USDA Secretary Vilsack remained closely involved in the agricultural sector. Vilsack moved on to lead the U.S. Dairy Export Council, serving as President and CEO since 2017. The amount of experience that Vilsack will bring to the position was one of the reasons so many industry groups have been supportive of the selection.
“Between pandemic recovery, the imminent threat of climate change, rampant corporate power, and chronic overproduction, family farmers and ranchers have significant challenges ahead of them in the next several years – and they need a strong Secretary of Agriculture behind them to make it through in one piece,” National Farmers Union President Rob Larew said in a statement. “After eight years leading USDA, Tom Vilsack has the necessary qualifications and experience to steer the agency through these turbulent times.”
The selection of Vilsack is receiving a broad array of support from various industry groups. Organizations including the Organic Trade Association, the Humane Society Legislative Fund, the National Pork Producers Council, and the National Association of Conservation Districts have all issued messages of support for the new Agriculture Secretary. Secretary Vilsack’s confirmation hearing is expected to be scheduled sometime in the coming weeks.