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Senate approves former Iowa gov. Tom Vilsack for Agriculture Department again

Tom Vilsack

Washington (AP) -- The U.S. Senate voted 92-7 Tuesday to confirm Tom Vilsack as Agriculture secretary.

The former Iowa governor spent eight years leading the same department for former President Barack Obama.

In his testimony, Vilsack, 70, heavily endorsed boosting climate-friendly agricultural industries such as the creation of biofuels, saying "Agriculture is one of our first and best ways to get some wins in this climate area."

He faced minimal opposition throughout the confirmation process.

Senator Joni Ernst and the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association have released statements on the confirmation.

Sen. Joni Ernst

“Tom Vilsack is no stranger to the needs of Iowa and our agriculture community, and there’s no doubt he’s qualified for the job. As I said during his confirmation hearing, Secretary Vilsack must be a strong and loud advocate for Iowa farmers, the biofuel community, and rural America as a whole when helping create and implement the new administration’s agenda. If Secretary Vilsack decides to give into the liberal Left – their policies that would hurt animal agriculture and devastate our biofuel industry and the RFS – Iowans will remember. I expect Mr. Vilsack to do the right thing for farm country, and I will certainly hold him to that.”

Sen. Joni Ernst

Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks

"I am pleased to see that the Senate has confirmed Secretary Vilsack with a strong, bipartisan vote. Secretary Vilsack has always been a strong advocate for family farms, biofuels, and Iowa’s numerous commodities, all of which are vital to Iowa’s economy. He has the experience and knowledge to hit the ground running at USDA, which will be crucial as our economy continues to recover from COVID-19. I look forward to working with the Secretary, as well as my House and Senate colleagues, to serve farmers across Iowa."

Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (IA-02)

Iowa Renewable Fuels Association

“We congratulate Secretary Tom Vilsack and look forward to working with him once again in this role. Whether serving as USDA Secretary, Iowa’s Governor, or a private citizen, Secretary Vilsack has never forgotten the value biofuels bring to American agriculture and the air we breathe. We are confident that during his tenure at USDA he will continue to be a strong champion for ethanol and biodiesel, working hand in hand with his colleagues in the administration to ensure biofuels are given every opportunity to help reduce this country’s carbon footprint and dependence on fossil fuels.”

Iowa Renewable Fuels Association

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig

"Having an Iowan at the helm of USDA is positive for our state’s agriculture community. Secretary Vilsack will be able to hit the ground running given his previous experience as agriculture secretary, and being a former Governor, he understands the partnership between states and the federal government. I look forward to working alongside Secretary Vilsack to continue to grow demand for renewable fuels, prevent foreign animal diseases, advance water quality and soil health, promote international trade and support investments in rural America."

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig

Iowa Democratic Party

"Iowans know Secretary Vilsack’s devotion to public service better than anyone and we congratulate him on being confirmed to lead the U.S. Department of Agriculture once again.

More than ever, we need his leadership and experience in this role. Secretary Vilsack knows the importance of creating new opportunities for all Americans and ensuring strong agricultural markets to feed and fuel the world. As farmers, workers, and families recover from this devastating pandemic, we trust Secretary Vilsack and the Biden-Harris administration to navigate these challenges and help them build back stronger than ever."

Iowa Democratic Party Chair Ross Wilburn

Former Iowa Lt. Gov. & Iowa Ag. Secretary under Vilsack, Patty Judge

"Secretary Tom Vilsack knows the USDA inside and out. He also knows what Americans are facing today. I trust Vilsack to expand access to nutritious food, strengthen family farms and revitalize our communities—from including farmers in the fight against climate change to efforts to expand broadband. Rural economies can rely on him to put us on the right path immediately."

Former Iowa Lt. Gov. & Iowa Ag. Secretary Patty Judge

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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