President-elect Joe Biden has officially nominated former Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to serve in that position once again.
Vilsack served as head of USDA for eight years under the Obama administration. Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) had expressed interest in running the nation’s agriculture department, but instead has been tapped to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
“Vilsack is committed to ensuring the USDA promotes true equity and inclusion in every mission it has,” Biden said.
Plenty of agricultural organizations have offered their words of support for Vilsack returning to his previous position.
“Tom Vilsack is an excellent choice to serve in this role,” said Geoff Cooper, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association, in a statement. “During his last term as secretary, he has shown clearly and continually that he can work effectively with the broad spectrum of interests who have a stake in the wide body of issues under USDA’s portfolio, including renewable fuels. We are especially happy to have someone in the Biden administration who intimately understands the crucial role renewable fuels and agriculture can play in confronting climate change.”
Chuck Lippstreu, president of the Michigan Agri-Business Association, said Vilsack’s experience is what will be a benefit to the organization.
“We welcome the president-elect’s nomination of Tom Vilsack to lead USDA, where he will be ready from day one to help people in Michigan and across America,” said Lippstreu. “Having served as Secretary for eight years, he brings the experience and in-depth knowledge of USDA that’s critical to lead the department. In my experience, he deeply appreciates the personal impact USDA programs have for Americans, takes that responsibility seriously and is committed to making government work for people across our nation.”
The North American Meat Institute also applauded Vilsack’s nomination. In a statement, Julie Anna Potts, president and CEO of NAMI said: “Secretary Vilsack brings experience and leadership to the Department of Agriculture at a critical time when the meat and poultry industry works to put food on American’s tables and to keep the farm economy working in a pandemic. We look forward to working closely with Secretary Vilsack in his new role to ensure our industry remains a valuable partner to livestock producers.”
Sen. Debbie Stabenow, ranking member of the Senate Ag Committee, expressed her well wishes to Vilsack as well.
“Secretary Vilsack has the experience, resolve, and vision that is needed to usher in a new era at USDA. I worked closely with him during the Obama Administration and saw first-hand the transformation he led at the Department to reinvigorate rural communities, improve school meals, and address the climate crisis.”
John Boyd, president and founder of the National Black Farmers Association, also congratulated Vilsack on his nomination. However, he did encourage him to “address the long legacy of discrimination against Black farmers.”
“To level the playing field and right these historic wrongs, Mr. Vilsack as Secretary must expand Black farmer access to land and credit and reform USDA’s income support and insurance programs to end systemic discrimination,” he wrote in a statement. “He must create outreach programs to help Black farmers participate in these programs and lift the veil of secrecy that hides the true extent of racial discrimination at USDA. I stand ready to work with Secretary Vilsack to meet these challenges – and to hold him accountable.”