ND & MN Senators React To The Return of Tom Vilsack as Ag Secretary

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Former Iowa governor Tom Vilsack was confirmed by the Senate this week as the next Agriculture Secretary, a job he held previously for 8 years.

Minnesota and North Dakota lawmakers were asked about what’s in store for agriculture under the Biden administration.

In a 92-7 vote Tuesday, Vilsack was confirmed to lead the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

It’s a role he held for eight years during the Obama administration.

Senator Tina Smith, a Democrat from Minnesota said, “He really understands us here in Minnesota.”

Smith says she’s hopeful Vilsack’s leadership will bring better days for Midwest farmers.

“I think because he has experience with the department, he’s really going to be able to hit the ground running in so many ways.”

While Vilsack has received overwhelming bipartisan support, Republican North Dakota Senator John Hoeven says he hopes Vilsack’s actions will put farmers first.

“The key is going to be, as he advances environmental and conservation programs that they’re voluntary not mandatory meaning that they have to be farmer friendly,” said Hoeven.

Vilsack says addressing climate change and racial equity are top among his priorities.

But he’ll also have to address historically high levels of food insecurity, a lack of competitive markets and economic hardships brought on by the pandemic.

Leaders of major agriculture organizations say there’s no one more qualified to tackle the challenge.

Mike Stranz, National Farmers Union VP of Advocacy said, “We know that our food system needs to be more resilient…and I think a lot of people are hopeful that Secretary Vilsack can do that.”

Dale Moore, American Farm Bureau Federation Executive Vice President said, “Given all the changes that are occurring in Washington, it feels good to have somebody who knows us and who we know, in that position.”

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