Tom Vilsack

Equity Commission recommends ‘sweeping and generational change’ at USDA

The Agriculture Department, whose programs range from crop subsidies to public nutrition, would reform its operations to assure fair treatment of everyone under the recommendations of an administration-appointed commission, delivered in a final report on Thursday. Co-chair Ertharin Cousin said the goal was “to ensure equity becomes part of the DNA as well as the culture of this great organization.”

Ethanol for aviation will get tax credits, Vilsack assures industry

Ethanol will be included when the Biden administration spells out eligibility for lucrative tax credits for sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), and the incentives will reflect the impact of climate-smart farming practices, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told ethanol makers on Tuesday. "We're working very hard to make that happen, and I'm confident that it will happen."

Biofuels and climate markets could stem loss of farms, says Vilsack

The decades-long decline in the number of U.S. farms can be stanched by adopting climate-smart farming practices and crops, increasing biofuel production, and expanding local and regional marketing, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told the largest U.S. farm group on Monday. There are 2 million farms in operation today; the number of farms peaked at 6.8 million in the 1930s.

Farm bill: ‘There will be an extension,’ says Vilsack

Congress will have to extend the life of the 2018 farm law into 2024 so it can finish work on its successor, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Tuesday. "Most people acknowledge there will be an extension," although its duration is unclear, he said.

Capitol Hill logjam, funding shortage shift farm bill target to December

Farmers are clamoring to enroll in the USDA's climate mitigation programs, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Tuesday, while leaders of the Senate and House Agriculture committees made it official: December is the new target for passage of the farm bill. The 2018 farm law expires on Sept. 30, but there is little peril until dairy subsidies terminate on Dec. 31, said House Agriculture chairman Glenn Thompson.

Vilsack says innovation key to fighting climate change, food insecurity

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Monday touted new investments and partnerships to address climate change and food security through agricultural innovation. Speaking at the opening of the Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate (AIM for Climate) Summit, he said the initiative has secured more than $13 billion in public and private investments for climate-smart agriculture, reflecting what he called a “global appetite to accelerate innovation.” (No paywall)

House spending leader says USDA’s wings should be clipped

The Biden administration cannot be trusted to spend tax dollars prudently, and Congress ought to block the USDA’s access to the $30 billion reserve fund it used to launch a climate mitigation initiative, said the chair of a House Appropriations subcommittee on Thursday. The Republican-controlled Congress restricted Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack’s access to the fund for five years during the Obama administration.

Farm bill is chance to develop a new model for prosperity, says Vilsack

Congress should build into the new farm bill pathways that will allow small and midsized producers to make a living from the land rather than having to rely on off-farm income, as is common now, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Monday. In a speech to the National Farmers Union convention, Vilsack used the administration's initiatives to develop markets for climate-smart products, expand local meat processing and encourage local marketing of farm goods as examples of ways to create or increase farmers' revenue streams.

USDA’s Equity Commission calls for department-wide reform

From its top officers down to its local offices, the Agriculture Department needs to institutionalize equity in its programs and its operations, said an administration-appointed commission on Tuesday after a year-long study of the USDA. Sometimes called "the last plantation" because of racial bias in its operations, the USDA has paid $3 billion since 1999 to resolve lawsuits by Black, Native American and Hispanic farmers.

SNAP is a bulwark for low-wage workers, says Vilsack

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack bristled at the “notion of picking on SNAP” when millions of Americans are locked into low-wage jobs and need help buying food. “We never have that conversation,” he said on Thursday. Cuts to food stamps have become a frequent suggestion by conservative Republicans in Congress in debates over the farm bill or raising the debt ceiling.

‘Precision nutrition’ to combat diet-related diseases, says Vilsack

The USDA said it would accelerate research into diet-related diseases on Monday as part of President Biden's "Cancer Moonshot" to reduce the cancer death rate by at least half over the next 25 years. "Precision nutrition," to fine-tune individual diets for health, will be one of the areas of study, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

USDA unveils nutrient management initiative

The USDA will direct additional funds toward voluntary nutrient management projects on the farm and streamline the process of applying for funding, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Monday. Vilsack said nutrient management would "help farmers address local resource concerns and global food security issues while also improving their bottom line."

Vilsack adviser nominated for U.S. chief agricultural negotiator

In his second attempt to fill the post, President Biden nominated Doug McKalip on Wednesday to be the U.S. chief agricultural negotiator, working with U.S. trade representative Katherine Tai. The post has been vacant since Biden took office, to the increasing dismay of farm-state lawmakers and the agribusiness sector.

Vilsack: Transform food system with more processors and local marketing

The pandemic exposed the weaknesses of a food system built around large-volume production and national supply chains, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Wednesday. As a remedy, he said, the USDA would help independent processors start up or expand their operations and encourage local marketing.

Trust the farmer, says Vilsack, as senators warn of food shortages

Republican senators slammed the Biden administration on Thursday for high inflation nationwide and said the USDA should free American farmers to plant as much land as they want to avert a potential food crisis. “We’re all hammered with” inflation, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell told Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

‘Stay tuned,’ says Vilsack as dairy demands retaliatory tariffs

The United States was "greatly disappointed" by Canada's refusal to allow larger imports of U.S. dairy products despite a USMCA trade ruling, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Monday. Vilsack expressed solidarity with U.S. dairy groups that called for retaliatory tariffs on Canadian goods, telling reporters, "Stay tuned."

Crop farmers to see $6 billion in disaster aid — USDA

Beginning later this month, farmers across the nation will receive around $6 billion in disaster relief for losses due to catastrophic weather and wildfires, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Monday. The money, part of $10 billion earmarked for agricultural disasters, would be paid through the new Emergency Relief Program (ERP) to offset lower yields and value losses, said the Agriculture Department.

Vilsack recuperating from Covid-19; ‘thankfully, my symptoms are mild’

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack “will continue his official duties” while isolating and recovering from Covid-19, said the Agriculture Department on Saturday. Vilsak is the latest among Washington officials, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Attorney General Merrick Garland, to test …

Half of USDA’s undersecretary posts are yet to be filled

Nearly a year after Tom Vilsack became agriculture secretary, his corps of sub-cabinet executives, the eight undersecretaries who oversee each wing of the USDA's activities, is just half filled. The White House has yet to announce candidates for two of the posts, and two other nominations await Senate action.

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