February 23, 2021

Duckworth Votes to Confirm Thomas Vilsack as Agriculture Secretary


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] — U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) released the following statement after voting to confirm Thomas Vilsack as U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary. Vilsack was confirmed by a 92-7 vote to serve as USDA Secretary under President Biden.

“Tom Vilsack’s proven leadership and important experience in supporting America’s farmers, investing in rural communities and championing food assistance will help him lead our Department of Agriculture once again. With the nation facing a hunger crisis as increasing numbers of Americans require nutrition assistance and food producers struggle with the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, I look forward to working with Secretary Vilsack to prioritize food security and economic support for all Americans in need.”

Since the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, Senator Duckworth has been vocal on its impact on America’s farmers and food security. In April 2020, she joined a bipartisan group of Senators on a letter sent to USDA then-Secretary Sonny Perdue urging USDA to ensure that a portion of the $9.5 billion they secured in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, goes to local farmers who sell directly to consumers, schools, institutions, food hubs, regional distribution centers, retail markets, farmers markets and restaurants. The following month, Duckworth joined a bipartisan group of Senators in urging the USDA to target relief through its newly-created Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) to reach local farmers.

Last month, the Senator urged President Biden to take action to address discrepancies that contribute to perpetuating food insecurity in the military by blocking servicemembers from qualifying for certain federal nutrition assistance. In December, she and Senator Durbin successfully secured a provision in the fiscal year 2021 Omnibus Appropriations Bill that will stop the USDA from terminating Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits for a group of supportive living facilities (SLFs) in Illinois that serve 8,000 low-income seniors and individuals with disabilities.