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Former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack confirmed to reprise role as USDA Secretary

Published: Feb. 23, 2021 at 12:59 PM PST
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - In a rare show of bipartisanship, former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack will reprise his role as Agriculture Secretary following a 92-7 vote in the U.S Senate, Tuesday.

The Senate Agriculture Committee approved Vilsack following a friendly committee confirmation hearing on Feb. 2, where Vilsack faced questions on industry challenges and trade. During his testimony, he pledged to focus on COVID-19 recovery and climate change initiatives.

While Democrats appear to be sold on his agenda, Republicans, like fellow Iowan Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), say they are drawn to his more moderate side, citing his experience and midwestern values.

“He has exactly the experience we need and the midwestern roots to understand the needs of our farmers and ranchers,” said Ernst.

In addition to serving two teams as the governor of Iowa, Vilsack spent eight years as President Obama’s Agriculture Secretary. After a 4-year hiatus, he’ll be back in the saddle again, but it’s for that reason some fear his ideas may be antiquated.

“He did a lot of lip service for climate change in his first eight years,” said Lilliston. “Now he’s going have to act. What steps is he going to take to build a more resilient farming system?”

Civil rights advocates have also expressed concern, criticizing Vilsack for not doing enough to combat alleged long-standing discrimination in the department.

Vilsack has vowed to make “racial justice and equity” a priority.

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