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Tom Vilsack to be Nominated as USDA Secretary


According to news reports President-elect Biden intends to nominate Tom Vilsack as Secretary of the USDA based on his experience, prospects for easy conformation as a non-controversial nominee. Vilsack is a known quantity having served previously as Secretary of the USDA for eight years. He is expected to bring stability to the Department and reduce uncertainty experienced by a stressed agricultural community facing the challenges of COVID-19, a depressed economy and trade disputes.


Based on previous actions and decisions the following can be expected of a Vilsack tenure at the  helm of the USDA:

Secretary-Designate Tom Vilsack
  • Continued support for ethanol production


  • Revival of regulations framed in 2017 under GIPSA, favoring contractors and family farms.
  • Implementing the recently enacted Farm Bill and to initiate consultations with Congress to frame legislation leading to the next farm Bill


  • Maintain crop insurance programs


  • Adopting a more active role in advancing sustainability and averting climate change through application of proven science


  • Restoring Obama-era nutritional standards for school feeding


  • Engendering bipartisanship in Congress to the benefit of his farmer constituency


  • Continuing a Departmental focus on farmers in comparison to a consumer-oriented approach as promoted by the left-wing of the Democratic Party


  • Moderation in trade disputes and restoration of levels of commodity exports that pertained prior to the advent of the 2017 trade war with China


  • Appointment of competent and experienced subordinate undersecretaries and deputy secretaries, coupled with a higher degree of professionalism in decision-making. The programs and policies of the USDA will be more influenced by science than by political considerations as compared to the previous Administration.


  • Promote a rational immigration policy providing security for both farmers and workers


Secretary Vilsack will approach the position with considerable experience as a previous two-term cabinet member and will have the support of the President, having campaigned for Candidate Biden. Secretary-Designate Vilsack has the expressed support of Senator Chuck Grassley, a past-Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee and a force in U.S. agriculture. He has already received indications of support from the American Farm Bureau and the National Farmers Union.


Immediate challenges will be to fill vacant positions with suitable nominees who can be confirmed, address the issue of food insecurity exacerbated by COVID-19 and to wean producers from Government support that represented 40 percent of agricultural income in 2020.