He’s Baaack

Dec 11, 2020

In a surprising yet recognizable turn of events, a familiar face will be taking back the reins of the USDA in January.

Reports confirm that President-elect Joe Biden has all but finalized his pick for Secretary of Agriculture to be former Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.

Amid heavy speculation that the USDA chief gig was between former Sen. Heidi Heitkamp and Rep. Marcia Fudge, Vilsack emerged as the apparent safe, comfortable alternative.

+ Worth noting: Ohio’s Fudge was tapped to be Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.
The former Iowa Governor served a full eight years under President Obama. He’s since been leading the U.S. Dairy Export Council.

Vilsack will re-enter the role with new dynamics at stake:

  • Pandemic-related relief programs will need to be addressed
  • Trade and market volatility have amped up
  • Technology advances are critical for rural broadband and sustainability efforts

And you can’t make everyone happy. Vilsack’s Iowa roots, current job, and support of corn ethanol have some believing his only allegiance is to big agribusiness. Friends of the Earth was one of several organizations noting they were “deeply disappointed” with the choice.

Zoom out: Vilsack was a safe pick that both Republicans and Democrats can get behind.