In a 92-7 vote, the U.S. Senate confirmed Tom Vilsack on Feb. 23 as Secretary of Agriculture in the Biden administration, the ninth cabinet member to be confirmed.
Vilsack, who was Secretary of Agriculture with the Obama Administration for eight years, also served as governor of Iowa
Commenting after the vote, the returning Secretary noted, “We’re going to be a USDA that represents and serves all Americans.” He added that he is “optimistic about the future and believe our brightest days are ahead.”
Among Vilsack’s goals, he has indicated, are “building a rural economy based on biomanufacturing” as well as “turning agricultural waste into a variety of products.” To that end, Vilsack said he will work alongside the Environmental Protection Agency to encourage the industry on biofuels.
The seven opposing votes were cast by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). Sanders said he would prefer a Secretary of Agriculture “more vigorous in terms of protecting family farms and taking on corporate agriculture.”
From produce industry, optimistic congratulations were extended to Secretary Vilsack by United Fresh President/CEO Tom Stenzel, who said, “I want to Congratulate Secretary Vilsack on his confirmation to once again lead USDA after a resounding bipartisan vote in the Senate. 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.”
Stenzel continued, “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.”