Several dairy organizations commended President-elect Joe Biden’s nomination of Tom Vilsack as Agriculture secretary. Vilsack currently is president and CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC), Arlington, Va., and previously served as secretary of agriculture under President Obama.

Michael Dykes, D.V.M., president and CEO of the Washington, D.C.-based International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), said the association is pleased with the choice.

“As Mr. Vilsack knows well, one-fifth of the nation’s economy is linked, either directly or indirectly, to the food and agriculture sectors, supporting more than 45 million jobs and trillions in wages,” he said. “An experienced mayor, governor and two-term agriculture secretary in a previous administration, Mr. Vilsack has the knowledge and understanding to hit the ground running and make immediate progress on pressing issues facing food, agriculture and the rural economy.

“He has seen first-hand the pandemic’s impact on health and jobs, and we’re hopeful that with his guidance, we can continue to protect our essential workforce so they can feed our nation,” Dykes continued. “To that point, the nation’s food security will be his top priority upon taking office, and IDFA offers our partnership in finding creative ways to reduce hunger and improve access to nutritious foods including dairy. On behalf of the men and women working across the dairy industry—from farms to processing facilities to retail and distribution hubs—IDFA looks forward to working with Mr. Vilsack and his team to make dairy central to solutions.”

Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of the Arlington, Va.-based National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), noted that Vilsack has devoted his life to service.

“While we will miss him as a colleague and friend, all of us in the dairy community who have had the opportunity to work with him over the past four years know his deep passion and commitment to rural America and his understanding of its interdependence with our urban and suburban communities,” he said. “The challenges that lie ahead are many — from a battered farm economy to climate change, the environment and sustainability, to nutrition and the importance of addressing the nation’s growing food insecurity, as well as the need for better trade policy and expanded markets abroad, and much more. No one is better suited to tackle these challenges than Tom Vilsack.”

USDEC also commended the selection. 

“Over the many years Secretary Vilsack has worked closely with agriculture — whether as mayor of a small town, governor of Iowa, secretary of agriculture or through active involvement in many agricultural groups — he has shown leadership and vision in strengthening the American agricultural economy and helping provide safe and nutritious food for all Americans,” said Tom Gallagher, CEO of Rosemont, Ill.-based Dairy Management Inc. (DMI), which founded USDEC and helps manage the organization.