Politics Senate Confirms Vilsack as Biden’s Secretary of Agriculture
Biden heads out of D.C. for town hall and first major presidential trip
President Biden took his message to Milwaukee, attempting to move past former president Donald Trump’s impeachment and sell his own agenda. But even as he tries a return to normalcy, Biden’s events are heavily restricted by the pandemic. Speaking at a CNN town hall, Biden pledged that any American who wants a vaccine will have access to one by the end of July. He said he wanted many elementary and middle schools to be open five days a week by the end of April. And he said that "by next Christmas, I think we'll be in a very different circumstance.
(Bloomberg) -- The Senate confirmed Tom Vilsack as U.S. Agriculture Secretary, opening the way for the Biden administration to move forward with a farm agenda emphasizing climate change, equity for minority farmers and more food assistance for the poor.
Vilsack, well-known in Washington and the agriculture industry after serving eight years in the post under President Barack Obama, was confirmed 92-7 Tuesday after less than 15 minutes of debate in the Senate. He was confirmed despite some criticism from progressive groups and minority farm advocates that he wasn’t aggressive enough in aiding Black farmers during the Obama administration and is too close to agribusiness interests.
The Daily 202: Biden builds back boring in town hall. That’s not a bad thing
Let’s come out and say it: An absence of incendiary tweets doesn’t make a young presidency boring when the administration is facing a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic, the resulting economic devastation, the climate crisis and a host of other problems. A running seven-day average of deaths from the virus stood at 2,455. Whatever the assessment of whether Biden is meeting those challenges, these are not boring times. On the substance, the Delaware Democrat probably disappointed progressives on several fronts.
Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg
Vilsack, 70,to adopt more climate-friendly practices in his confirmation hearings and while campaigning on behalf of Biden during the presidential election campaign. Biden set a goal during the campaign for the U.S. to be the first country to cut its agriculture sector’s net greenhouse gas emissions to zero.
Robert Bonnie, a senior climate adviser to the Biden USDA, suggested during the transition rapid funding for a so-called carbon bank that would pay farmers, foresters and ranchers for practices that sequester carbon. Bonnie said a U.S. Agriculture Department forum last week that he anticipates the department will issue a report on climate policy in about 75 days.
Jill Biden is hitting the ground running -- in all directions
As far as Jill Biden is concerned, there isn't necessarily going to be one "first lady platform," or even two or three. A month into the job, and Biden has heaped a lot on her agenda, unsure at the moment exactly how it will unfold, only that it will "naturally evolve," she has told her staff.Unlike her predecessor Melania Trump, Biden has packed a calendar-full of events, appearances (most virtual) and interviews, aggressively pursuing policy passion projects, and maintaining her schedule as a teacher at a northern Virginia community college.
The Biden USDA has embracedproposed by newly elected Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock of Georgia to include $5 billion for Black, Hispanic and Native American farmers in the $1.9 trillion Covid relief package. The funding would include $4 billion to help minority farmers pay off USDA loans and $1 billion to address systemic racism at the USDA.
Vilsack pledged during his confirmation hearings to “root out” a legacy of racism at the department, which settled a series of class-action lawsuits for discriminating against minority farmers in loan and aid programs over decades.
Biden disappointed some minority farming advocates in choosing Vilsack to run the department over House Agriculture Committee member Marcia Fudge, who openly campaigned to be the first Black woman to lead the department. Fudge was instead chosen as secretary for housing and urban development, a post that has often gone to minorities.
PORTRAIT. André Pochon, the old man and the earth
© Philippe Renault, Ouest-France A figure of agriculture in Brittany, André Pochon testifies in the documentary "Nous paysans", broadcast this Tuesday February 23 at 9:05 pm on France 2 , of the evolution experienced in recent decades by the agricultural world. At 89 years old, André Pochon has lived through all the changes in agriculture. He was a passionate player in it, advocating the virtues of grass, autonomy and sustainable agriculture all his life.
Biden has since moved to name minorities to key positions at USDA, including Virgina state agriculture commissioner Jewel Bronaugh to be
Vilsack has faced lingering bitterness for his role in the 2010 ouster of Shirley Sherrod, a Black woman who was then the USDA’s Georgia state director of rural development, after a conservative blogger posted an edited video of her purportedly expressing racist views. When an unedited video of the speech later surfaced verifying her claim that she was telling a story of racial healing, Vilsack offered to re-hire her but she declined.
The Biden administration also is seeking to extend a 15% increase in food stamp benefits, administered by the USDA, as part of its Covid relief package.
Vilsack will also have leeway to determine how to distribute some of the remaining farm aid included in previous Covid relief measures. The departmenta $2.28 billion tranche of farm aid Trump authorized on his last full day in office so Vilsack could review the program and indicated the agency would soon announce additional relief measures for farmers.
Democrats repeatedly criticized Trump farm aid programs as being too skewed to large farms and insufficiently geared to smaller, struggling operations.
Vilsack, a former governor of Iowa, a farm state which leads the nation in corn and hog production, has long ties to Biden going back to an endorsement in Biden’s short-lived first presidential campaign in 1987. He became president and chief executive officer of the U.S. Dairy Export Council after serving as Obama’s agriculture secretary.
For more articles like this, please visit us at
©2021 Bloomberg L.P.
GOP says Ron Klain pulling Biden strings .
Republicans are attacking White House chief of staff Ron Klain as "the guy behind the curtain" and "Prime Minister Klain" as they try to push back on someone they see as formidable opponent in the battle over President Biden's agenda.The GOP blames Klain for Biden's refusal to negotiate the price down on his $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package, an approach they say conflicts with Biden's campaign pledges."We've gotten the impression from our members that have been in meetings down there that he's kind of the guy behind the curtain," said Senate Republican Whip John Thune (R-S.D.).Aides to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.