Tom Vilsack was sworn in as the 32nd Secretary of Agriculture after the Senate voted overwhelmingly, 92-7, in favor of his nomination.
Vilsack said in a statement after the vote, “We have a lot of work ahead of us to contain the pandemic, transform America’s food system, create fairer markets for producers, ensure equity and root out systemic barriers, develop new income opportunities with climate-smart practices, increase access to healthy and nutritious food, and make historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy in rural America.”
Senator Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, said during Senate consideration of Vilsack’s nomination, “American farmers, families, and rural communities need strong effective leadership now more than ever, and when it comes to strengthening our food and farm economy, I am very confident that soon-to-be-confirmed Secretary Tom Vilsack is more than up to the task. He has a proven track record and will embrace new ideas in a new era at the department."
Ag supports Vilsack’s confirmation
Agricultural organizations are pleased with Tom Vilsack returning as ag secretary. Some of the comments:
American Farm Bureau 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.”
National Farmers Union President, Rob Larew: “No one is more qualified to lead the USDA than Tom Vilsack. After serving as secretary of agriculture for eight years, he knows the agency inside and out, giving him the insight he needs to get to work right away on behalf of family farmers, rural communities, and hungry Americans.”
North American Meat Institute President and CEO, Julie Anna Potts: “We welcome Secretary Vilsack’s leadership and experience at USDA as we build on these effective protections, vaccinate frontline workers as quickly as possible, feed American families, and keep our farm economy working. In addition, Meat Institute member companies remain at the ready to assist Secretary Vilsack and USDA in ensuring rural communities have access to the vaccine.”
U.S. Meat Export Federation President and CEO, Dan Halstrom: “Sec. Vilsack clearly understands the importance of agricultural exports and the returns they deliver for U.S. farmers and ranchers. He has excellent relationships with key trading partners and will be a very strong voice for U.S. agriculture.”
Ag products definition changed regarding exports
USDA and the Department of Commerce have changed the definition of “agricultural products” when reporting international trade data. USDA adopted the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) internationally recognized definition of “agricultural products,” which includes ethanol, distilled spirits, and manufactured tobacco products, three product groups not included in the current USDA definition.
Ag supports Bronaugh for deputy secretary of ag
A group of 60 of agricultural associations sent a letter to the Senate Agriculture Committee in support of the nomination of Dr. Jewel Bronaugh to serve as deputy secretary of agriculture.
The associations said, “In Dr. Bronaugh’s service as a cooperative extension specialist, university dean, USDA-FSA state executive director, and most recently as the 16th commissioner of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, she has committed herself to fair and equitable administration of the laws and policies within her areas of responsibility. Noting Dr. Bronaugh’s exceptional passion and perspective, we are confident that she will provide outstanding leadership in service to our nation as USDA’s deputy secretary.”
Those signing the letter included the American Farm Bureau Federation, American Health Institute, American Soybean Association, National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Corn Growers Association, National Cotton Council, National Farmers Union, National Pork Producers Council, North American Meat Institute and North American Renderers Association.
New FSA administrator
Zach Ducheneaux has been appointed administrator of USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA). Recently, Ducheneaux served as executive director of the Intertribal Agriculture Council. Ducheneaux has been affiliated with the Council since the 1990s, which according to USDA is the largest Native American agricultural organization in the U.S., serving 80,000 Native American producers.
Ducheneaux ranches with his family on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation in northcentral South Dakota.
Baldwin to chair Senate ag appropriations subcommittee
Senator Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., is the new chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and related agencies. Senator John Hoeven, R-N.D., will be the subcommittee’s ranking member.
There are three new members of the subcommittee – Senators Brian Schatz, D-HI, Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., and Mike Braun, R-Ind.
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