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Heartland agriculture leaders react to former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack's cabinet nomination

This would be Vilsack's second time in the post
Tom Vilsack, Joe Biden
Posted at 3:24 PM, Dec 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-11 18:15:46-05

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — On Friday, President-elect Joe Biden officially announced his nomination of former Iowa governor, Tom Vilsack to helm the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). If approved by the Senate, it will be the second time Vilsack held this cabinet post. He served as Secretary of Agriculture during two terms of the Obama administration from 2009-2017.

U.S. Representative Martha Fudge is Biden's pick for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, but there were some Democratic party leaders hoping that the Ohio representative would get the USDA appointment. South Carolina Rep. Jim Clyburn, the No. 3 House Democrat, was among those suggesting Fudge should serve as agriculture secretary.

Biden appeared to acknowledge that Friday by saying the congresswoman “could do many jobs beyond the one I’m asking her to do." But he said Fudge has spent her career fighting for working people on issues, like urban revitalization and affordable housing, that are at the core of the mission of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Related: Biden formally introduces several more picks for Cabinet-level positions

This week agriculture industry leaders in Iowa and Nebraska reacted to Vilsack's nomination.

“We would like to congratulate Tom Vilsack for again taking up the leadership of the United States Department of Agriculture. As agriculture’s highest-ranking ambassador within the federal government, the Secretary of Agriculture is a vital position whose decisions affect the everyday lives of farm and ranch families across our great nation," said Mark McHargue, President of the Nebraska Farm Bureau. "While there are many tough policy issues facing agriculture, we have always appreciated how Secretary Vilsack approached issues with both honesty and integrity. Nebraska Farm Bureau had a strong working relationship with him and his team for eight years, and we hope to continue that relationship in the years ahead.”

Biden said he was “persistent” in persuading Vilsack to again take on the role he held under President Barack Obama and labeled the former Iowa governor as “the best secretary of agriculture I believe this country’s ever had.”

“It’ll be great to have an Iowan at the helm of USDA that understands the challenges facing the family farmers who dominate American agriculture. Secretary Vilsack knows first-hand the importance of robust biofuels markets at home and abroad to the economic vitality of the farm economy. He has stood up for the RFS and expanded exports. And Secretary Vilsack has created innovative solutions like the Biofuels Infrastructure Program that really began the growth of E15 availability. We look forward to Sec. Vilsack continuing to push creative solutions, whether it be for growing higher-blend markets, ensuring farmers are rewarded for their ability to sequester carbon in the soil, or in expanding export opportunities,” Iowa Renewable Fuels Association Executive Director Monte Shaw said.

Reporting from the Associated Press was included in this story

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