Tom Vilsack confirmed as agriculture secretary again


WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Tom Vilsack is again the U.S. secretary of agriculture after being confirmed with overwhelming support in the Senate Tuesday.

Vilsack also held the office under President Barack Obama.

Midwestern lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are hopeful his leadership will lead to better days for farmers who over the last four years have been ravaged by severe weather, trade war tariffs and the pandemic.

“(Vilsack) understands our family farmers, he understands struggles that so many have gone through,” Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., said.

Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa and Roger Marshall, R-Kan., agreed they were confident Vilsack will provide necessary aid to farmers in their states, with Grassley praising his performance.

“We may not agree on everything but we have the same goals,” Marshall said.

Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, said she still fears Vilsack could ultimately harm ethanol producers by endorsing President Joe Biden’s push for electric vehicles.

“I hope he doesn’t bend entirely to the Biden administration and that he can share with the president how important the (Renewable Fuel Standard) is to us,” she said.

Bustos argued ethanol producers are better off under the Biden administration.

“It is things like ethanol, biofuels, that will be part of the climate solution,” she said.

Vilsack also faces pressure from groups like the National Black Farmers Association, which say he must address decades of discrimination against Black farmers. Vilsack has said he will do everything he can to remove those barriers.

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