Joe Biden nominates former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack for U.S. Secretary of Agriculture

Former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack will reportedly resume his role as agriculture secretary in Joe Biden’s presidential cabinet. He previously held the role for eight years under Barack Obama


Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack speaks in favor of Hillary Clinton in Cedar Rapids on, Monday Jan 4, 2016. Tom Vilsack is an Iowa democrat that has served in office since 2009. (Jordan Gale/The Daily Iowan)

Lauren White, Politics Reporter

Update Dec. 10: President-elect Joe Biden nominated former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack to reprise his previous role as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture on Thursday.

Biden announced the nomination along with a slate of other key cabinet positions, including Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development; and Dennis McDonough, President Obama’s chief of staff, as Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

“This dedicated and distinguished group of public servants will bring the highest level of experience, compassion, and integrity to bear, solving problems and expanding possibilities for the American people in the face of steep challenges,” Biden said in a statement. “The roles they will take on are where the rubber meets the road — where competent and crisis-tested governance can make a meaningful difference in people’s lives, enhancing the dignity, equity, security, and prosperity of the day-to-day lives of Americans.”

Vilsack will resume the role he took in the Obama-Biden administration, where he served as Secretary of Agriculture for eight years. Vilsack supported Biden and endorsed him before the Iowa caucuses.

Vilsack, a two-term Iowa governor, has been a player in national politics over the last decade. Before becoming a cabinet member in the Obama administration, Vilsack launched an unsuccessful presidential bid in 2008. He was also a contender for Hillary Clinton’s running mate in 2016 and was a policy advisor on Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign.

“Governor Vilsack is a proven public servant whose empathy, compassion, and decades of knowledge are near-unparalleled,” Iowa Democratic Party Chair Mark Smith wrote in a statement. “More than anything, Americans need steady, united leadership as we face the greatest challenges in a generation. Governor Vilsack’s experience in the role will bring immediate relief to our beleaguered farmers, workers, and families across the country who have been left behind.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is expected to play a large role in the Biden administration’s response to climate change, according to the Biden-Harris climate plan and plan for rural America.

This may have made it easier for Vilsack to return to the job, after years of hesitant farmers, these farm groups, such as the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers alliance, are willing to look into various climate change policies.

Abby Finkenauer, the representative for Iowa’s 1st Congressional District who was defeated by Republican Ashley Hinson on Nov. 3, is in consideration to be Biden’s labor secretary, according to Reuters.

Former UI President David Skorton and UI College of Law Dean Kevin Washburn were added to Biden’s transition team in November. Skorton is part of Biden’s Arts and Humanities review team, and Washburn is leading the Department of the Interior review team.