Friends of the Earth Statement on the Confirmation of Tom Vilsack as Agriculture Secretary

WASHINGTON – In a 92-7 vote in the Senate today, Tom Vilsack was confirmed as President Biden’s USDA Secretary. Erich Pica, President of Friends of the Earth, issued the following statement: 

We congratulate Secretary Vilsack on receiving majority support for a second tour as Agriculture Secretary.  

We stand ready to support Secretary Vilsack’s stated priorities to fight climate change, advance racial justice, and restore the role of science in policymaking. We are also encouraged by his promise to assure nutrition security and address the impact of COVID-19 on our food system. To achieve these goals, Secretary Vilsack’s second tour at USDA must look dramatically different than his first.  

He must be willing to take on the agribusiness lobby, which has dominated the agency and features prominently on his own resume. He must transform the USDA to support a more diversified, regenerative, healthy, and just food system. He cannot rely on harmful policies like subsidizing biofuels and carbon markets that benefit Big Ag corporations at the expense of communities of colorlow-income people, and the planet. He must ensure economic justice for independent and Black, Indigenous, and other   farmers of color, protections for food workers, and access to healthy food for every American. 

A prerequisite for delivering on President Biden’s ambitious climate change and racial justice agenda is a racially diverse leadership team that includes perspectives historically underrepresented at USDA. We are encouraged by many of the picks thus far. We call on President Biden and Secretary Vilsack to continue to install qualified candidates of color who have a demonstrated commitment to building a truly healthy and just food system.

Communications contact: Kaela Bamberger, (202) 222-0703, [email protected] 

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