Tom Vilsack confirmed as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture
After weeks of waiting, Tom Vilsack has officially been confirmed as the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. During his confirmation hearing in early February, Secretary Vilsack noted his priorities included tackling the COVID-19 recovery and addressing climate change.
"Clearly, COVID is on the minds of everyone, as it should be, and the Department of Agriculture has responsibility to aggressively promote the nutrition assistance that you all have provided, and they have begun to do that in the last week, 10 days," Secretary Vilsack told the Senate Ag Committee. "We also have to review the additional relief that's been ordered by Congress and try to get that into the hands of farmers, ranchers, producers and those in rural America as quickly, as efficiently, as effectively as possible.”
His nomination has been backed by several agricultural groups and is widely supported throughout the produce industry.
"Congratulations to Tom Vilsack on being confirmed today as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture and this second opportunity to shape agriculture policy during the next four years,” said Cathy Burns, CEO of the Produce Marketing Association.
”In his previous service as USDA's leader, PMA and its members enjoyed collaborating with Secretary Vilsack on a number of critical issues facing the fresh produce industry — ranging from including fresh fruits and vegetables in school feeding programs, increased SNAP benefits, and supporting various USDA committees with industry insight — and we look forward to future partnership with the Secretary and his team,” Burns continued. “In light of our announcement in joining the steering committee of the Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance (FACA), we also look forward to working with Secretary Vilsack on devising meaningful incentives, science-based metrics and durable policies for climate-smart agriculture that recognize unique aspect of the specialty crop industry."
“I want to Congratulate Secretary Vilsack on his confirmation to once again lead USDA after a resounding bipartisan vote in the Senate," said United Fresh President and CEO Tom Stenzel. "Secretary Vilsack has long been a friend of the fresh produce industry. On issues ranging from food and nutrition security to labor challenges in agriculture , Secretary Vilsack has shown commitment to finding positive solutions. We are particularly looking forward to working with Secretary Vilsack on a new Food Box program which has proved to be a critical step in providing healthy fresh fruits and vegetables to those in need, while supporting small farms and distributors around the country.”
“We are pleased the Senate has confirmed Tom Vilsack as Secretary," said Western Growers President and CEO Dave Puglia. "Our work with him during his previous service as secretary yielded positive policy actions for the fresh produce industry. Looking ahead, we must band together to address short term, pandemic-related needs such as funding for worker safety costs, as well as larger and longer term threats to the viability of farming in the West. Over the next four years, we know Secretary Vilsack will work with us as he has in the past to ensure economic prosperity for America's family farmers.”