Cathy Burns, Tom Stenzel, and Dave Puglia Issue Statements In Support of Secretary Tom Vilsack's Confirmation
WASHINGTON, DC - A change that has been months in the making has finally come to fruition with the official Senate confirmation of Tom Vilsack as Secretary of Agriculture for the Biden Administration.
President Biden initially nominated Vilsack in December 2020 for the role, which was met with approval from leaders across the fresh produce industry. Following the nomination, Vilsack was confirmed by the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture earlier in February, which also saw an outpouring of support from fresh produce associations and names such as the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas as well as the United Fresh Produce Association.
Today, Vilsack’s official Senate hearing was held, where a 92–7 vote confirmed him as Secretary of Agriculture, according to a report from The Washington Post.
As the news of Vilsack’s confirmation broke, leaders from across the industry shared their congratulations and support of the decision, including Cathy Burns, CEO of the Produce Marketing Association.
“Congratulations to Tom Vilsack on being confirmed today as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture and this second opportunity to shape agriculture policy during the next four years," Burns began. "In his previous service as USDA’s leader, PMA and its members enjoyed collaborating with Secretary Vilsack on a number of critical issues facing the fresh produce industry—ranging from including fresh fruits and vegetables in school feeding programs, increased SNAP benefits, and supporting various USDA committees with industry insight—and we look forward to future partnership with the Secretary and his team. In light of our announcement in joining the steering committee of the Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance (FACA), we also look forward to working with Secretary Vilsack on devising meaningful incentives, science-based metrics and durable policies for climate-smart agriculture that recognize unique aspect of the specialty crop industry.”
Joining Burns in extending congratulations is Tom Stenzel, President and CEO of the United Fresh Produce Association, who looks forward to growing the industry through collaboration with Vilsack.
“I want to Congratulate Secretary Vilsack on his confirmation to once again lead the USDA after a resounding bipartisan vote in the Senate," Stenzel said. "Secretary Vilsack has long been a friend of the fresh produce industry. On issues ranging from food and nutrition security to labor challenges in agriculture, Secretary Vilsack has shown commitment to finding positive solutions. We are particularly looking forward to working with Secretary Vilsack on a new Food Box program, which has proved to be a critical step in providing healthy fresh fruits and vegetables to those in need while supporting small farms and distributors around the country.”
The Western Growers Association’s President and CEO Dave Puglia also issued a statement in regard to the confirmation.
“We are pleased the Senate has confirmed Tom Vilsack as Secretary. Our work with him during his previous service as Secretary yielded positive policy actions for the fresh produce industry," Puglia explained. "Looking ahead, we must band together to address short term, pandemic-related needs such as funding for worker safety costs, as well as larger and longer-term threats to the viability of farming in the West. Over the next four years, we know Secretary Vilsack will work with us as he has in the past to ensure economic prosperity for America's family farmers.”
Secretary Vilsack served from 2009 to 2017 in the Obama administration, and upon taking office will be the second-longest-serving secretary of agriculture.
As Secretary Vilsack assumes his new role, AndNowUKnow continues to report on his ongoing impacts on the industry.