It’s official—Sec. Tom Vilsack will return to his post as head of USDA. The full Senate voted on his confirmation Thursday afternoon.
Sen. Debbie Stabenow, Chairwoman of the Senate Ag Committee, expressed her support for Vilsack during opening comments.
“His deep knowledge of agriculture and rural America is needed now more than ever, for our farmers, our families, our rural communities have so many challenges right now,” she said. “The COVID-19 crisis is continuing to disrupt our food supply chains for farmers, food processors and essential workers. Tens of millions of families still don’t have enough to eat and are lining up at food banks in order to put food on the table.”
Vilsack served as Secretary of Agriculture for eight years under the Obama administration. Because of that experience, Stabenow says Vilsack has the ability to effectively lead the agency.
“American farmers, families, rural communities need strong, effective leadership now more than ever,” she said. “When it comes to strengthening our food and farm economy, I am very confident that soon-to-be confirmed Secretary Vilsack is more than up to the task.”
Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.), Ranking Member of the Senate Ag Committee, voiced his encouragement for Vilsack ahead of the vote.
“I look forward to strengthening my working relationship with the secretary so we can find success in supporting those that work at the department and assisting those that the department serves,” he said. “Whether that success is born from the secretary utilizing existing authorities or through new legislation, I trust that the secretary will work with Congress as the agriculture community tackles new and existing challenges and works to build on countless past successes.”
Sec. Vilsack was confirmed by the Senate with a vote of 92-7. Those in dissent included Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Marco Rubio (R-FL).
Many in the agriculture industry have responded favorably to Vilsack’s confirmation.
“AFBF congratulates Tom Vilsack on his confirmation as the next Secretary of Agriculture,” said AFBF president Zippy Duvall. “His strong track record of leadership and previous experience at USDA will serve rural America well. Secretary Vilsack and I have spoken several times in recent weeks about opportunities and challenges facing America’s farmers and ranchers, and I look forward to close collaboration. We have a lot of work to do as we overcome obstacles created by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“Secretary Vilsack knows that renewable fuels like ethanol provide a solution that is available today for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, slashing harmful tailpipe pollutants, enhancing domestic energy security, and bolstering the rural economy,” said Geoff Cooper, president and CEO of Renewable Fuels Association. “We congratulate Secretary Vilsack and look forward to working with him to pursue President Biden’s vision for enhancing and expanding our nation’s production and use of clean, green renewable fuels.”