Smith, Hoeven discuss Biden’s choice to lead USDA

WASHINGTON (KVRR) – During his confirmation hearing Wednesday, Agriculture Secretary nominee Tom Vilsack addressed climate change, food insecurity and economic hardships brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Vilsack is one step closer to leading USDA, a role he held for eight years during the Obama Administration.

“I’m back again. I also realize this is a different time and I am a different person and it is a different department. I think we have to recognize that going forward.”

Minnesota Sen. Tina Smith expressed her support for Vilsack. She emphasized the importance of the role, calling agriculture the foundation of the Minnesota economy.

“He really understands the challenges that farmers and ranchers have been facing over the last few years with trade disruptions and low prices, and then the challenges with COVID. But he also really will seize the opportunity to move agriculture forward.”

Vilsack spent much of the hearing addressing climate change, a top priority for the Biden administration. Smith says these environmental efforts are welcome changes for rural communities in Minnesota.

“I always say you don’t have to talk to Minnesota farmers about climate change, because they see it every day in changing weather patterns and new diseases and flooding. They are working hard to address this and to work on big opportunities, like carbon sequestration and storage and the things that they can do on the farm to make a contribution and also improve their profitability.”

North Dakota Sen. John Hoeven also addressed Vilsack’s plan on climate change, emphasizing that new carbon-reduction programs shouldn’t come at the expense of farmers and producers.

He also urged Vilsack to follow through on agriculture assistance programs and initiate reform in livestock markets.

“We’ve got to do more for our livestock producers. We’ve got to get them more transparency and pricing in the market. We’ve got incredible concentration on the processor side, we’ve got to find ways to address that. That’s a huge priority.”

Vilsack’s nomination must be approved by the full Senate.

Categories: Local News, Minnesota News, North Dakota News