Vilsack confirmation hearing underway
The Senate Ag Committee confirmation hearing for Secretary Tom Vilsack is underway.
In his opening comments, Secretary Vilsack told committee members there are several “why not” opportunities for the USDA to help American agriculture. “We are in a ‘why not’ moment with reference to the climate change. I think there’s an opportunity for us to create new markets, incentives for soil health, for carbon sequestration, for methane capture and reuse, creating more jobs in rural America, creating greater farm income stability, and also reducing emissions.”
He says there are also opportunities to address food insecurity and the openness and competitiveness of markets. “The reality is we lack openness, fairness and competitiveness, and resiliency as the COVID-19 crisis has shown. I think we can strengthen the rules and laws designed to promote openness and fairness. I think we can support more marketing and processing opportunities and facilities throughout the country that will help to create jobs.”
And, Vilsack says the USDA needs to address the longstanding inequalities, unfairness, and discrimination in USDA programs, “to a future where all are treated equitably, fairly, where there is zero-tolerance for discrimination, where programs actually open up an opportunity for all who need help and lift the burden of persistent poverty for those most in need.”
Vilsack says while these are some long-term goals of the department, they will also remain committed to the USDA’s role in ensuring COVID relief and recovery assistance.
Vilsack appeared virtually in front of the Senate Ag Committee, which currently is without a Chair as the Senate has not yet passed a resolution that allows for the committees of the Senate to organize. Senators Stabenow and Boozman shared the responsibilities of holding the day’s hearing, and later to consider the nomination with a vote by the committee.
AUDIO: Ag Secretary nominee Tom Vilsack