Former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack Confirmed to Lead USDA for Second Time

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Maxwell Bernstein | February 24, 2021

Former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack was confirmed by the senate in a 92-7 vote on Tuesday to head the Department of Agriculture for a second time, according to the Iowa Capital Dispatch.

During his confirmation hearing, Vilsack discussed his plans to meet climate change goals, food insecurity, supply chain problems, and address inequalities that Black farmers face. “I will ensure all programming is equitable and work to root out generations of systemic racism that disproportionately affects Black, Indigenous and People of Color,” Vilsack said. “I will build the most diverse team in the Department’s history, one that looks like America, and will extend that commitment across all USDA agencies and offices.”

Out of the seven senators who opposed Vilsack, 6 included Republicans Ted Cruz of Texas, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Josh Hawley of Missouri, Dan Sullivan of Alaska, and Rick Scott and Marco Rubio of Florida. Bernie Sanders, the independent senator of Vermont also opposed Vilsack.

According to The Hill, Sanders said, “I like Tom and I’ve known him for years. I think we need somebody a little bit more vigorous in terms of protecting family farms and taking on corporate agriculture…I think he’ll be fine, but not as strong as I would like.”

Iowa Researchers Receive USDA Conservation Innovation Grants

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Tom Vilsack announced on Tuesday that Iowa will be involved  in four of 33 Conservation Innovation Grants.

One of the grants that involves Iowa will go towards a multi-state Conservation Technology Information Center. The center will focus on providing information to expand on the benefits that cover crops can provide. The economic benefits to landowners, the environmental benefits that can accrue, as well as the crop production and ag management benefits that accrue from cover crop production, said Vilsack.  Continue reading