Former Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, who is (or should be) notorious for fighting against equity for black farmers and lying about it, is Secretary of Agriculture once again. (He’s also in the tank for large agribusiness, but that’s another story)
Right now, he’s my choice for worst member of the Biden administration, but the term is still young:
After a 92-7 vote, the former governor of Iowa will reprise his role heading up USDA.
Three weeks after a cakewalk of a confirmation hearing, Tom Vilsack was confirmed as President Biden’s Agriculture Secretary on Tuesday in a 92-7 vote, garnering support from both parties. Vermont Independent Bernie Sanders and Republicans Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Rand Paul were among those voting against his confirmation. Senators had scheduled twenty minutes to debate the nomination but no one spoke out against Secretary Vilsack on the floor. Democrats voted unanimously in favor of the former governor of Iowa.
Vilsack’s nomination drew sharp criticism from civil rights advocates and various food safety and progressive farm groups, though he ultimately won support from major players including the Farm Bureau and the National Farmers Union.
Under Vilsack, USDA distorted data and concealed decades of discrimination against Black farmers.
Back in 2019, we published a two-year investigation exploring how USDA spun a fictional narrative about a renaissance in Black farming during the Obama years. Under Vilsack’s watch, USDA employees foreclosed on Black farmers with outstanding discrimination complaints, sent a lower share of loan dollars to Black farmers than it had under President Bush, and underrepresented the frequency of new discrimination complaints.
When Vilsack’s nomination was announced in December, Lawrence Lucas, president emeritus of the USDA Coalition of Minority Employees, told us his phone had been ringing off the hook with people telling him they did not support Biden’s nomination. “This brings tears to my eyes,” he said.
During his confirmation hearing, members of the Senate did not ask Vilsack about his record on civil rights, but he did say he anticipated forming an equity commission.
Yes, a f%$#ing commission. That will solve the problem of bigotry and racism, a problem that Vilsac studiously avoided doing anything about, go away.
It’s not, and if the past is prelude, Vilsack will continue to sacrifice family farms, regardless of color, on the altar of Big Ag.