Vilsack Starts Second Tenure at USDA, Climate Work Begins

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack spoke with the media Thursday, following this week’s Senate vote to confirm his nomination. Vilsack was sworn in Wednesday evening by Vice President Kamala Harris. He returns to the Department of Agriculture after serving eight years at the same post during the Obama administration. Vilsack spoke as the House Agriculture Committee explored U.S. agriculture’s role in climate change solutions. Much of the climate conversation regarding agriculture focuses on establishing a climate bank or market, paying farmers for climate-smart practices.

Vilsack says President Joe Biden has a vision of a net-zero emission U.S. agriculture, adding, “I think it has the capacity to fundamentally change U.S. agriculture in a positive way and create new revenue sources.” However, he says that work won’t happen in a single administration, but added “the work has to begin.” Vilsack planned to meet with the USDA climate team Friday. Vilsack says USDA’s role will be to provide technical guidance to lawmakers and the administration in crafting climate policies.