Several industry organizations signed a letter addressed to the Senate ag committee
By Diego Flammini
Several farm industry groups are asking federal officials to confirm the next secretary of agriculture without delay.
Nearly 130 signatories including the American Farm Bureau Federation, Agricultural Retailers Association, National Pork Producers Council and National Corn Growers Association sent a letter to the Senate agriculture committee to “respectfully urge confirmation of the Honorable Thomas Vilsack to serve as Secretary of Agriculture,” the Jan. 20 letter states.
Vilsack served as head of the USDA for eight years under President Obama and was the president and CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council since 2017 before receiving President Biden’s nomination.
His experience working in and with the ag sector make him worthy of a quick confirmation process.
“We endorse the nomination of Secretary Vilsack not just because of his previous outstanding eight-year tenure in the post during the Obama Administration, but more importantly because of his vision for meeting the substantial current challenges of food and agriculture,” the groups wrote.
The confirmation process will require Vilsack to undergo questioning from the Senate ag committee.
It can sometimes take an extended period of time to confirm a candidate, but that likely won’t be the case for Vilsack, said Ryan Bernstein, a senior policy advisor with McGuireWoods, an organization representing food and agribusiness interests.
“In 2017, Secretary Perdue didn’t clear until April 24 (after his March 23 hearing),” Bernstein told Farms.com. “I don’t anticipate it taking very long for Secretary Vilsack. The only question is if they have to take a formal vote or if he’s unanimously approved again.”
Bernstein is also a former chief of staff for North Dakota Senator John Hoeven and worked with members of the Senate on recent farm bills.
To date, only one of President Biden’s Cabinet picks have received confirmation.
On Jan. 20, the Senate confirmed Avril Haines as the director of national intelligence by a vote of 84 to 10.