Senate confirms Tom Vilsack to serve again as agriculture secretary

The vote was 92-7.

Vilsack, 70, will currently be tasked with helping farmers hard hit by former president Donald Trump’s trade wars in addition to also the coronavirus pandemic, which has sickened thousands of workers at meatpacking plants in addition to also deepened the challenges of hunger in addition to also food insecurity.

During his confirmation hearing earlier This specific month, Vilsack made clear the challenges facing the Department of Agriculture are different than 12 years ago.

“the globe in addition to also our nation are different today than when I served as agriculture secretary in a previous administration,” Vilsack said. “Today, the pandemic, racial justice in addition to also equity in addition to also climate change must be our priorities.”

Biden announced the pick in December, praising Vilsack for his effort implementing the Recovery Act after the Great Recession, expanding markets for farmers, improving food safety standards in addition to also helping “millions of children in addition to also families receive health meals.” Former President Barack Obama also picked Vilsack to address the scourge of heroin in addition to also various other opiate use in rural communities.

Biden called him, “The best secretary of agriculture I believe This specific country has ever had.”

Vilsack will have to overcome the wariness of progressive groups that will have asserted that will Vilsack can be too close with agricultural corporations. Vilsack also encountered opposition via civil rights groups, who criticized his firing of Shirley Sherrod, a Black agriculture department official, over a decade ago after Breitbart published a misleading video clip that will falsely suggested she was racist. (Vilsack apologized in addition to also attempted to hire her back).

Vilsack will be pressed to address the needs of rural communities who overwhelmingly supported Trump over Biden in addition to also are worried about Democrats passing brand new regulations.

Vermont independent Sen. Bernie Sanders joined six Republicans in voting against the nomination.

“I think we need somebody a little bit more vigorous in terms of protecting family farms in addition to also taking on corporate agriculture,” Sanders told reporters. “I think he’ll be fine, nevertheless not as strong as I would certainly like.”

Vilsack in addition to also his wife Christie endorsed Biden during the Iowa caucuses in addition to also campaigned aggressively for him. Biden finished fourth place, which at the time he called “a gut punch,” nevertheless repeatedly expressed his gratitude to the Vilsacks for their support.

In 1998, Vilsack became the first Democrat elected governor of Iowa in more than 30 years. He served as governor via 1999 to 2007 in addition to also chaired the Democratic Governors Association for a year. In 2009, the Senate unanimously confirmed Vilsack to be agriculture secretary.

After stepping down in 2017, Vilsack became the president in addition to also CEO of the US Dairy Export Council. Last year, he won a $150,000 Powerball prize from the Iowa Lottery.

This specific story has been updated with additional developments Tuesday.

CNN’s Ted Barrett, Arlette Saenz in addition to also Kate Sullivan contributed to This specific report.

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