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Senate confirms Tom Vilsack to serve again as agriculture secretary

February 23, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.

Compression ratio: 76.1%. 2 min read.

The Senate confirmed Tom Vilsack as President Joe Biden's agriculture secretary, sending the former Iowa governor to the same Cabinet position he served for the entirety of the Obama administration.

(CNN)The Senate confirmed Tom Vilsack as President Joe Biden's agriculture secretary, sending the former Iowa governor to the same Cabinet position he served for the entirety of the Obama administration.

Vilsack, 70, will now be tasked with helping farmers hard hit by former president Donald Trump's trade wars and the coronavirus pandemic, which has sickened thousands of workers at meatpacking plants and deepened the challenges of hunger and food insecurity.

During his confirmation hearing earlier this month, Vilsack made clear the challenges facing the Department of Agriculture are different than 12 years ago.

"The world and our nation are different today than when I served as agriculture secretary in a previous administration," Vilsack said.

Biden announced the pick in December, praising Vilsack for his effort implementing the Recovery Act after the Great Recession, expanding markets for farmers, improving food safety standards and helping "millions of children and families receive health meals. " Former President Barack Obama also picked Vilsack to address the scourge of heroin and other opiate use in rural communities.

Vilsack will have to overcome the wariness of progressive groups that have asserted that Vilsack is too close with agricultural corporations.

Vilsack also encountered opposition from civil rights groups, who criticized his firing of Shirley Sherrod, a Black agriculture department official, over a decade ago after Breitbart published a misleading video clip that falsely suggested she was racist.

Vilsack will be pressed to address the needs of rural communities who overwhelmingly supported Trump over Biden and are worried about Democrats passing new regulations.

Vilsack and his wife Christie endorsed Biden during the Iowa caucuses and campaigned aggressively for him.

Biden finished fourth place, which at the time he called "a gut punch," but repeatedly expressed his gratitude to the Vilsacks for their support.

In 1998, Vilsack became the first Democrat elected governor of Iowa in more than 30 years.

In 2009, the Senate unanimously confirmed Vilsack to be agriculture secretary.

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