February 23, 2021

Van Hollen Statement in Support of Thomas Vilsack to Serve as Secretary of Agriculture

Today, U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) released the following statement regarding his vote to confirm Thomas Vilsack to Serve as Secretary of Agriculture:

“As the United States is facing its worst hunger crisis since the Great Depression and family farms are struggling, President Biden has nominated Thomas Vilsack to reprise his role as Secretary of Agriculture and capably steward the Department to address these critical needs and support our rural communities. Given that agriculture is one of Maryland’s critical economic engines, I believe Mr. Vilsack is uniquely prepared to meet the unique challenges of this moment to help our state’s farmers and agricultural leaders across our state.

“Mr. Vilsack served as Agriculture Secretary for all eight years of the Obama Administration, overseeing investments in rural communities, healthier school meals, and better food safety standards. He also chaired the first White House Rural Council, which streamlined the effectiveness of Federal programs serving rural America; engaged stakeholders on issues and solutions in rural communities; and promoted and coordinated private-sector partnerships in those communities. 

“Our agricultural landscape has changed over the last four years, and we must accelerate our transition to net-zero agriculture by incentivizing practices like crop-covering and carbon sequestration. Agricultural conservation practices are critical for achieving the pollution-reduction targets for nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment under the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load. We also must prioritize climate solutions, sustainably manage resources, and invest in restoration efforts for watershed ecosystems like the Chesapeake Bay. I look forward to working closely with Mr. Vilsack to advance our goals for a healthy Chesapeake Bay and addressing climate change. 

“Additionally, as communities of color experience disproportionate economic hardships as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic in addition to decades of discrimination within USDA, I will hold Mr. Vilsack to his promise to ‘fully deeply and completely address inequities’ within the Department and show ‘zero tolerance for discrimination.’ This includes fighting to protect 1890s Land-Grant Universities like The University of Maryland Eastern Shore and Historically Black Land-Grant Universities across the country so they can continue their critical work of educating students in fields ranging from innovative agricultural practices to advanced engineering.

“Thomas Vilsack has the experience and insight to provide immediate relief to our struggling farmers, families, and rural communities. For these reasons, I was proud to vote in support of his confirmation for Secretary of Agriculture.”