News Release

Vilsack’s “Cozy Relationship With Big Ag Makes Him A Non-Starter at USDA”

President Biden’s nominee to head the Department of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, is scheduled to have his hearing Tuesday.

CommonDreams reports: “Amid Broader Concerns Over Biden USDA Nominee, Watchdog Flags ‘Disturbing Suppression’ of Science by Vilsack.”

WENONAH HAUTER, SETH GLADSTONE, sgladstone@fwwatch.org, @foodandwater
Hauter and Gladstone are with the group Food & Water Watch, which recently put out the statement: “Tom Vilsack’s Cozy Relationship With Big Ag Makes Him A Non-Starter at USDA.” They have joined with RootsAction and other groups to advocate against his nomination as secretary of agriculture.

Food & Water Watch states: “The Biden administration will fail rural America right out of the gate with a choice like Tom Vilsack for Secretary of Agriculture. ..

“As [Obama’s] Secretary of Agriculture, Vilsack failed to hold up his promise of addressing antitrust issues in the agricultural industry. A series of public meetings on the issue held jointly with the Department of Justice never resulted in regulatory action, and USDA policy continued to favor large-scale, corporate farming at the expense of family farms. Vilsack went on to become a lobbyist for the Dairy Export Industry, raking in more than $1 million in his first year, at a time when prospects for dairy farmers were so bleak that some received a suicide prevention hotline number along with their dairy checks. The prospect of Vilsack returning to head the USDA is an egregious example of a revolving door between industry and government.”

Also, see from the Guardian: “Tom Vilsack’s Cozy Relationship With Big Ag Makes Him a Non-Starter at USDA.”

See from The Counter: “How USDA Distorted Data to Conceal Decades of Discrimination against Black Farmers.”

In These Times reports that while Vil­sack was secretary of agriculture during the Obama administration, “he angered pro­gres­sive groups by let­ting poul­try fac­to­ries self-reg­u­late, speed­ing up the approval process for GMO crops, shelv­ing new reg­u­la­tions on big agri­cul­ture at the industry’s behest, and step­ping in to craft an indus­try-friend­ly nation­al GMO-labelling bill intend­ed to replace a pio­neer­ing stricter stan­dard in Ver­mont. The move helped earn him the deri­sive moniker ‘Mr. Mon­san­to.'”