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Vilsack confirmed as USDA secretary; ag groups pleased

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On Tuesday afternoon, the U.S. Senate confirmed Tom Vilsack as the Secretary of Agriculture overseeing the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Vilsack, who served in this same role during the Obama administration, will lead national policy on food, agriculture, natural resources, rural development, nutrition, and similar issues.

Agriculture groups, who have been waiting to have an active secretary to wok with, were pleased to hear the news.

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall said, “AFBF congratulates Tom Vilsack on his confirmation as the next Secretary of Agriculture. 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. We have a lot of work to do as we overcome obstacles created by the COVID-19 pandemic. We must commit to resuming CARES Act programs and continue to build on advances made in trade. We must move forward on the successes made in climate-smart practices while seeking partnerships to ensure new environmental policies remain market-based and voluntary. We also recognize the importance of strengthening the farm bill and bringing broadband to every community in America.

National Association of State Departments of Agriculture CEO Dr. Barb Glenn said, “We stand ready to work with Secretary Vilsack and USDA on issues that benefit this nation’s farmers and ranchers — his success means rural America’s success. Vilsack’s leadership, experience and understanding of the value of state agriculture departments will contribute to real and lasting impacts for farmers, ranchers and communities across our nation.

“NASDA is especially enthusiastic to work with the Secretary on our shared priorities including protecting the food supply chain, advancing diversity, equity and inclusion in agriculture, building and maintaining markets that advance local and rural economies, and promoting science-based solutions to climate challenges.”

National Milk Producers Federation President and CEO Jim Mulhern said, “All of U.S. agriculture has an effective advocate in Tom Vilsack, and the nation will be well-served by his return to public service leading the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“We in the dairy community who have had the opportunity to work with him have seen first-hand his deep passion for rural America and his commitment to advancing agriculture and the communities it serves, from farmers and food-sector workers to the consumers and businesses that depend on USDA to meet their needs every day, in every way. That’s especially important in light of today’s pressing challenges, which include a farm economy battered by the COVID-19 pandemic; climate change, sustainability and the environment; nutrition and food insecurity; international trade policies that limit U.S. exports; labor shortages that are worsening with time; and the legacies of societal injustice that need to be addressed.”

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