On Feb. 23, the U.S. Senate confirmed Tom Vilsack as secretary of the U.S. Division of Agriculture (USDA).
He has mentioned he’s dedicated to advancing President Joe Biden’s local weather agenda throughout the agricultural sector. He has additionally mentioned he’ll prioritize vitamin fairness and fairness for farmers of shade, echoing one other of Biden’s high priorities, racial fairness.
Vilsack shall be accountable for getting meals out to needy households as prescribed within the COVID-19 support packages, and serving to farmers by way of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic.
Vilsack, 69, headed the USDA underneath Obama from 1999 to 2007. He then served because the CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council. A former governor of Iowa, he unsuccessfully ran for the presidency in 2008 and later endorsed Hillary Clinton.
The Senate accredited the nomination by a 92-7 vote. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) broke the social gathering line and voted in opposition to Vilsack.
On Local weather
“Agriculture might be the primary and greatest approach to start getting some wings on this local weather space,” Vilsack said on Feb. 2, when he testified earlier than the Senate Agriculture Committee on his nomination for secretary of agriculture.
The Biden administration has billed local weather change as one of its fast priorities, together with the pandemic, the financial system, and racial fairness.
Vilsack continued, “Whether it is voluntary, market-based, incentive-based, I believe you will note farmers, ranchers, and producers cooperate extensively.”
He has proposed packages associated to carbon sequestration and storage, methane seize and reuse, and biofuels.
Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan) and Sen. John Boozman (R-Arkansas) of the agriculture committee urged Vilsack on the listening to to view farmers as an answer, not a drawback, in advancing the local weather agenda.
“Our drumbeat is no matter is finished, it must be voluntary, producer-led, bipartisan, and it actually begins with producers,” Stabenow mentioned. “We all know from [a] listening to we did final 12 months on this committee that farmers are already doing issues which are making a distinction. They’re capturing carbon and lessening the carbon air pollution.”
Boozman mentioned, “It’s vital that USDA and this committee preserve producers on the forefront of any dialogue on local weather change. Heavy-handed, one-size-fits-all laws merely won’t work.”
Former President Donald Trump had a lot help amongst farmers, partially for rolling again Obama-era environmental laws that affected them. Notably, he contested the Waters of the US rule and changed it with the Navigable Waters Safety Rule.
Forward of that change, Trump spoke on the matter at an American Farm Bureau Federation conference, on Jan. 19, 2020. “I’m proud to announce that I’m taking one more step to guard the water rights of American farmers and ranchers,” Trump mentioned, including that the change would “permit states to handle their water assets primarily based on their very own wants and primarily based on what their farmers and ranchers need.”
“You like your land. You’re going to deal with your land. You don’t want bureaucrats in Washington telling everybody what … to do together with your land,” he mentioned.
The agriculture financial system is at present propped up by record-high subsidies supplied by the Trump administration to mitigate the losses from years-long worth drops, commerce wars, and the pandemic. Vilsack he would construct the financial system by way of new markets, together with biofuel at dwelling and commerce alternatives overseas.
Vilsack mentioned he would advance vitamin fairness by serving to folks of shade deal with weight problems, diabetes, and different persistent ailments. It’s certainly one of 4 main areas he would deal with whereas tackling the pandemic; the opposite three are local weather change, meals safety, and commerce.
The USDA has an estimated 2021 funds of $151 billion and practically 100,000 workers. Effectively over half of its funds goes to fund nationwide meals packages, akin to the Supplemental Diet Help Program (SNAP, previously often known as the Meals Stamp Program).
He additionally mentioned he’ll be certain that farmers of shade have equal entry to USDA help.
Vilsack, 69, was an orphan in Pittsburgh, adopted in 1951. He practiced regulation in Mount Nice, Iowa, and served as the town’s mayor when the farm sector was recovering from its second worst agricultural despair, attributable to the farm credit score disaster of the Eighties. He served on the Iowa State Senate earlier than changing into governor.