Senate to Vote on Vilsack's Secretary of Agriculture Confirmation Next Week
Vilsack Confirmation Hearing 020221
After weeks of waiting, the Senate has scheduled a vote on Tom Vilsack’s nomination for Secretary of Agriculture on Feb. 23, 2021.
In early February, the Senate Agriculture Committee unanimously approved President Joe Biden's pick to lead USDA. During the hearing, the former USDA Secretary acknowledged he'd be returning to USDA in different times, and that he was a different man. Vilsack laid out his priorities during the confirmation hearing in early February, including plans to tackle the COVID-19 recovery and his vision to address climate change.
"Clearly, COVID is on the minds of everyone, as it should be, and the Department of Agriculture has responsibility to aggressively promote the nutrition assistance that you all have provided, and they have begun to do that in the last week, 10 days," he told the Senate Ag Committee. "We also have to review the additional relief that's been ordered by Congress and try to get that into the hands of farmers, ranchers, producers and those in rural America as quickly, as efficiently, as effectively as possible. We need to make sure that our workers on the line, in the farm fields, in processing facilities and alike are protected and recognized as the essential workers they are. And we certainly need to work collaboratively with Congress and others to build back the rural economy in better shape than it was before the COVID crisis.”
On the topic of climate, Vilsack proposed ways for USDA to utilize the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) to help with climate initiatives.
"I think agriculture is probably the first and best way to begin getting some wins in this climate area," said Vilsack. "I think farmers are prepared for it, farmers are anxious to do it, if it's voluntary, if it's market based, if it's incentive based. I think you will see farmers, ranchers and producers cooperate extensively.”
The push to get Vilsack’s nomination approved is something backed by several agricultural groups. A coalition of 130 ag groups, including the American Farm Bureau Federation, sent a letter to the Senate Agriculture Committee in January calling for a swift nomination process.