WASHINGTON — The US Senate confirmed Tom Vilsack as President Joe Biden’s secretary of agriculture on Feb. 23.

Vilsack previously served as secretary of agriculture under President Barack Obama from 2009 to 2017. Before that, Vilsack served as governor of Iowa from 1999 to 2007.

In his confirmation hearing Vilsack stated that the COVID-19 pandemic, racial justice and equity and climate change will be his overarching priorities when he took over the agency.

Vilsack emphasized the USDA will do its part to end the pandemic.

“That commitment begins by doing all we can to distribute the vaccine so that we can get our economy back on track,” Vilsack said. “It also means following the science, instituting science-based measures and providing access to PPE to protect our workforce and partners. Our USDA food safety inspectors, for example, deserve not only our thanks for ensuring a safe food supply — they deserve knowing we have their backs.”

Constance Cullman, president and chief executive officer of the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA), issued a statement commending Vilsack on his confirmation.

"On behalf of our nearly 700 members in the US animal food industry, we extend out congratulations to Secretary Vilsack for his apointment to lead the USDA," Cullman said. "He understands that with 6,200 manufacturing facilites across the country generating over 246.4 million tons of animal food annually, our industry is the vital link between crop and animal agriculture."

Cullman went on to list her association's agenda for the USDA under Vilsack's leadership, including improving agricultural research and mitigating risks around the threat of animal disease, harmonizing regulatory framework and modernizing rural infrastructure.

David Scott, House Agriculture Committee Chairman, also issued a statement of approval.

“I applaud the Senate for approving Secretary Tom Vilsack to head the Department of Agriculture for a second time,” Scott said. “I am excited about working with him and his staff to ensure that USDA works to support our farmers in an equitable way. I look forward to Secretary Vilsack joining us at our House Agriculture Committee hearings over the course of his tenure to provide critical updates on the important work of USDA.”

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