Washington DC Update

February 25, 2021

On Tuesday, Tom Vilsack was confirmed by the Senate for a second time as Secretary of Agriculture.  With a Senate confirmation vote of 92-7 the Biden administration gains a very experienced Secretary with a depth of knowledge in agriculture issues having served as Secretary of Agriculture for eight years during the Obama administration.

Three areas that Vilsack focused on during his confirmation hearing was climate-friendly agricultural industries such as the creation of biofuels and rural biomanufacturing.  Vilsack also testified about creating an “equity taskforce” inside the department to identify intentional or unintentional barriers that prevent or discourage farmers of color from properly accessing federal assistance programs.  Vilsack also expressed support for SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program aka food stamps) as a key instrument in helping the country’s most vulnerable families survive and recover from the pandemic era.

Also, this week the House Budget Committee passed the $1.9 Trillion pandemic relief package under reconciliation rules.  It is expected to be voted on by the full House of Representatives by the end of the week.   After House approval, it will be considered by the Senate where different reconciliation rules apply.  It is expected that some of the provisions will be deleted.

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