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Ag groups urge swift confirmation of Vilsack as head of USDA

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State- and national-level agricultural organizations sent a letter to the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry calling for the swift confirmation of Thomas Vilsack as Secretary of Agriculture. The position would put Vilsack at the helm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, where he would lead national policy on food, agriculture, natural resources, rural development, nutrition, and similar issues.

Vilsack, who severed in this role for eight years during the Obama administration, would replace Sonny Perdue. Vilsack has been president and CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council since 2017.

The organizations speaking up to advance Vilsack’s nomination include the American Farm Bureau Federation, National Corn Growers Association, the Milk Producers Council, the National Pork Producers Council, the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas, the Organic Trade Association, the United Egg Producers, and the Animal Health Institute. This is just a slice of the nearly 130 organizations who signed the letter, many of whom released statements of congratulations to Vilsack when he was nominated in mid-December.

They credit Vilsack’s vision for meeting the current climate of farming and food challenges and said that his service in the post during the Obama administration will benefit consumers both in the U.S. and abroad.

“Secretary Vilsack understands and embraces as USDA’s mission the advancement of U.S. food and agriculture for the benefit of all in the U.S. and countless consumers beyond our shores,” the letter said. “We endorse the nomination of Secretary Vilsack not just because of his previous outstanding eight-year tenure in the post during the Obama Administration, but more importantly because of his vision for meeting the substantial current challenges of food and agriculture. Secretary Vilsack is ready to lead the peoples’ department and American food and agriculture broadly to meet environmental challenges, enhance diversity and inclusion, strengthen food security, and build rural prosperity through expanded trade and development of the bioeconomy, all with broad consumer benefits.”

The associations behind the letter represent the vast majority of the food and agriculture sector that is responsible for roughly one-fifth of the country’s economic activity, directly supporting more than 23 million jobs — constituting nearly 15 percent of total U.S. employment.

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