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USDA Secretary Nominee Receives Unanimous Support by Senate Agriculture Committee, Heads Swiftly to Full Senate for Vote

With a “why not” approach, Thomas Vilsack wishes to build and promote a more resilient rural economy by identifying innovative opportunities in agriculture and tackling climate change while incentivizing carbon credits.

Thomas Vilsack is no stranger to the role of USDA Secretary nor leading the agency in times of crisis. From steering the economy in the Great Recession, under President Obama, to facing the global pandemic and a climate crisis, he believes that agriculture is the best way to start addressing and targeting areas that combat climate change. His view is that if it’s voluntary, market-based and incentive-based, farmers, ranchers, and producers will be more willing to cooperate extensively. His “why not” perspective indicated that, as USDA Secretary, he would continue working on exploring opportunities for the agricultural community to become more efficient and environmentally friendly with assistance of his colleagues at the Environmental Protection Agency. Senators of both parties applauded his enthusiasm to welcome innovative, climate-smart, and cost-efficient ideas designed to benefit the industry and was praised by his eight years of experience and commitment to building a more resilient rural economy.

Vilsack’s goal to tackle climate change proposes different approaches that, along the way, create new market opportunities for farmers and ranchers. Starting with converting agricultural waste into a variety of fertilizing products, investing in soil health by increasing research and development in crops that can sequester more carbon and thus increasing greater storage, and establishing advisory groups of farmers for better guidance on carbon sequestration and carbon bank efforts to adequately measure, quantify, and promote the development of these regenerative agricultural practices.

He believes that the Commodity Credit Corporation is a great funding tool that could help farmers adopt sustainable practices and also serve as a structure that informs future farm bills about what will incentivize carbon sequestration, encourages investing in precision agriculture, and promote soil health. When dealing with climate and increased productivity, precision agriculture will be an important area for considerable investment as carbon capture is a much needed climate-friendly practice that the farming community needs to feel encouraged to adopt.

I believe Secretary Vilsack, with his experience and ability, will become one of the most influential members of the Biden Cabinet!

– Byron Dorgan,

Senior Policy Advisor and Former Senator

As Members of the Committee asked final questions related to their constituencies, Vilsack made sure that each answer identified a new market opportunity that not only would benefit their state but also all agricultural communities across the nation. He stated that increasing sustainability, market competitiveness, climate-friendly practices, and promoting the organic industry will be steps towards getting closer to President Biden’s goal of zero net emissions in agriculture. Vilsack vowed to work with Congress to achieve the President’s goal, support, and create new market opportunities, all while addressing the most prominent task at hand: Climate change. The Committee approved his nomination, clearing it for full Senate consideration in the coming days.


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