Senate Ag Committee advances Vilsack

Nearly every issue affecting food and agriculture was on the table during Tuesday’s Senate Ag Committee confirmation hearing for Secretary Tom Vilsack.

Chairwomen Debbie Stabenow of Michigan wanted Vilsack’s take on what can be done to give farmers a sense of normalcy.

“It’s more than just export markets; it’s growing markets here domestically,” Vilsack replied.

Senator Mike Braun of Indiana asked what the Secretary will do to keep farmers financially healthy without reverting to government support.

“I think the President has the right vision of a zero-emission agriculture,” said Vilsack  “I do believe honestly that it will create enormous new opportunities and allow that family farm, regardless of size, to stay in business.”.

Senator Tina Smith of Minnesota questioned Vilsack’s plan to help overcome inequities in credit access.

His response, “First of all, I think we need to take a much deeper dive than that’s ever been taken before in terms of USDA programs to identify what barriers in fact exist.”

Senator John Thune of South Dakota is concerned about the concentration in the cattle industry and pressed for Vilsack’s views how to correct market volatility.

“I think there are ways in which we can also expand significantly processing opportunities in this country so that we’re not overly reliant on a small number of processors,” said Vilsack.   “I think we saw the penalty of that during COVID.”

During a business meeting following the hearing, the committee favorably approved Vilsack as the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture and his nomination will be considered by the full US Senate. 

Stabenow says Vilsack’s confirmation is one step closer so he can get to work at the USDA.  She says he has the experience and vision that the nation’s farmers, families, and rural communities need now more than ever.

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