NOTE: Grassley’s questions for Vilsack can
be found HERE
his Instagram post from the hearing can be found HERE
Remarks by U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa
Hearing for Thomas J. Vilsack
Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry
February 2, 2021
Good morning to all my colleagues. Welcome
and congratulations to our nominee.
It’s quite an honor to introduce a fellow
Iowan, Thomas J. Vilsack, former two-term Governor of Iowa, former Secretary of
Agriculture for eight years in the Obama administration and well known to
everyone on this committee.
I have a long relationship with Secretary
Vilsack. I can’t think of a single quarrel that I’ve had with Governor Vilsack.
I know that he knows agriculture very
He knows the importance of maintaining the
institution of the family farm. We have 88,000 of them in Iowa. And he knows
the family farm is the foundation of success for American agriculture.
And he knows how to faithfully execute the
laws at the Department of Agriculture. Eight years of previous actions
Secretary Vilsack became Mayor of Mount
Pleasant, Iowa at a time when our nation was recovering from maybe the second
worst agriculture depression we’ve had, caused by the Farm Credit Crisis of the
Much like the 1980’s agriculture
depression, the nation is continuing to recover from the impact of the coronavirus.
We’ve seen higher rates of food insecurity, continued food supply chain
disruptions and family farms struggling to balance their books. Should he be
confirmed, the experience from the 1980’s farm crisis will serve him well at
this time of family farms being under duress.
I remember my first discussion with then
to-be Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack in 2009. I brought up my work and involvement
in the Pigsford operations. That was the case of civil rights being equal
rights for black farmers in America. And at that time when he was going into
office, there was still some carry over that was not being done in the right
way for the people who had won their civil rights in the Pigsford cases. He
definitely worked hard to see those people got their rights delivered to them. And
that was one of my requests at that time, because I was involved in the 1990’s
in getting justice for those farmers.
Secretary Vilsack also has a very strong
history of promoting agriculture products both here and abroad.
As a Governor, Secretary Vilsack expanded
opportunities for green energy including biofuels. This is so very, very
important for the 43,000 jobs in Iowa.
And as Secretary, he made investments from
the Commodity Credit Corporation to increase the amount of fueling pumps that
carry E15 and E85.
If confirmed, I’m looking to him to be a
voice of reason within the Administration on the future of biofuels as he was
in the eight years that he was a member of the Obama cabinet.
Finally, as Governor, Secretary and most
recently, CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council, he knows well U.S. agriculture
is dependent upon access to our foreign markets.
As former Chairman of the Finance
Committee, I’m committed to taking down barriers that limit this access and
give U.S. agriculture a level playing field. And any U.S. Secretary of Agriculture
plays a very important role in that.
I’m very encouraged by the success of the
China Phase-One Agreement and am glad that USMCA helped achieve historic gains
for agriculture. This work is reflected in the fact that corn and soybeans are
the highest they’ve been since 2013.
By the way, Vilsack, in his role as CEO at
the U.S. Dairy Export Council, had a news conference with me in Des Moines,
Iowa on the necessity of getting USMCA passed. So, even as a private citizen,
he was working very strongly to export our products.
I’m looking forward to working with Secretary
Vilsack to increase foreign market access so that our high-quality crops and
livestock can be sold across the world.
I often say that only two percent of
Americans that farm provides for the other 98 percent of Americans without much
If confirmed, I know Secretary Vilsack
will continue to work for the family farmer and spotlight their contributions
to agriculture and society. As an Iowan, that’s part of his nature. It goes way
back to him being a lawyer in the small town of Mount Pleasant, Iowa.
Please know that you have an open door to
my office if you or your staff need a helping hand in any of the missions that
confront you, and particularly those that confront all Americans because of the
I urge my colleagues to favorably report
your nomination out of committee and approve on the Senate floor as soon as