Tom Vilsack was appointed by President Barack Obama as the 30th Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and sworn into office on January 21, 2009.
As Secretary of Agriculture, Vilsack is working hard to strengthen the American agricultural economy, to revitalize rural communities, to protect and conserve our natural resources, and to provide a safe, sufficient and nutritious food supply for the American people. Because USDA’s work affects every American everyday, we are proud to be the ‘Every Way, Every Day’ USDA.
As Agriculture Secretary, Vilsack has worked to implement President Obama’s ambitious agenda to turn around the economy and put Americans back to work. USDA has supported struggling farmers and ranchers, provided food aid to 1 in 4 Americans, and worked to create jobs and build a foundation for future economic growth – especially in rural America.
At USDA, Secretary Vilsack is working to ensure that America’s forests and private working lands are conserved, implementing new strategies to restore our forests and clean our water supply. These efforts are already creating private sector jobs protecting and rehabilitating our forests and wetlands.
Under Vilsack’s leadership, USDA is working to improve the health of America’s children, targeting child hunger and obesity with efforts to encourage balanced meals, nutritious eating and increased physical activity. He has ordered a top to bottom review of USDA’s food safety standards and has begun to implement policy changes to ensure the safety of the American food supply.
Secretary Vilsack shares President Obama’s commitment to strengthening rural America, which is why USDA is helping create economic opportunities in America’s rural communities by expanding broadband access, promoting renewable energy, increasing agricultural exports, taking advantage of ecosystem markets, capitalizing on outdoor recreation, and linking local farm production to local consumption. And USDA is revitalizing rural America by investing in critical infrastructure such as homes, fire stations, water systems and health clinics that will create jobs and improve the quality of life for rural residents.
Secretary Vilsack’s USDA is promoting American agriculture production and biotechnology exports by conducting cutting edge agricultural research and maintaining an appropriate safety net for America’s farmers and ranchers. Vilsack is committed to President Obama’s National Export Initiative to expand American agricultural exports through travel, negotiations and improved promotion strategies. And he has worked to develop a United States Government-wide strategy to establish food security across the globe.
Secretary Vilsack has worked to make the Department more efficient, transparent and effective. He has instituted reforms at USDA that will save taxpayers more than $50 million. And he has made civil rights a top priority, taking definitive action to improve the Department’s record and to move USDA into a new era as a model employer and premier service provider.
Prior to his appointment, Vilsack served two terms as the Governor of Iowa. In that role, and as a state senator and the mayor of Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, Vilsack has a remarkable record of making positive change in the lives of those he has served.
A native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Vilsack was born into an orphanage and adopted in 1951. He received a bachelor’s degree from Hamilton College in 1972 and earned his law degree from Albany Law School in 1975. Following school, he and his wife Christie moved to Mt. Pleasant, Iowa – her hometown – where he practiced law. The Vilsacks have two adult sons, Jess and Doug; a daughter-in-law, Kate, who’s married to Jess; and two grandchildren.
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Secretary Tom Vilsack's Posts
- October 24, 2014 at 1:09 PM EST
Secretary Tom Vilsack gives an update on how the United States Department of Agriculture is making a difference for Americans in rural areas -- the first in a "Keeping Up with the Cabinet" series.
- July 25, 2014 at 11:12 AM EST
Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack discusses the first-ever Rural Opportunity Investment Conference hosted by White House Rural Council. The conference brought together key people from the investment community, rural areas and government to make the business case for investing in rural America.
- June 6, 2014 at 11:50 AM EST
The global appetite for high-quality, American-made products is well established, but few American companies today have capitalized on this demand — just one percent of U.S. companies export.
- February 5, 2014 at 12:51 PM EST
America’s farmers, ranchers and forest landowners face a complex and ever-changing threat in the form of a changing and shifting climate.
- January 24, 2014 at 6:47 PM EST
The USDA's StrikeForce for Rural Growth and Opportunity initiative, which helped to inform President Obama's recently-announced Promise Zones, is rallying available tools and technical assistance and targeting these resources to the areas where they are needed most.
- September 10, 2013 at 4:08 PM EST
Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack hosts a meeting of the White House Rural Council to discuss continued efforts to better serve rural America – from conservation, to veterans’ services, to rural development, to support for American agriculture and more.
- June 15, 2012 at 3:13 PM EST
On June 11th the White House Rural Council celebrated it's first birthday. Last year, U.S. farm sector income reached a nominal record of $98.1 billion and record agricultural exports supported nearly a $43 billion trade surplus and 1.15 million American jobs. However, while progress has been made, we still have a great deal of work to do. It’s not time to let up.
- April 13, 2012 at 8:58 AM EST
Last year, USDA provided biomass project funding assistance for a total of 52 projects with just over $31 million in grant and loan note guarantees
- February 21, 2012 at 5:36 PM EST
Feedback gathered on Administration travels throughout the countryside has helped identify creative ways to move the country forward without relying on Congress to act
- January 10, 2012 at 10:11 AM EST
New efficiencies will save about $150 million a year and ensure that USDA continues to provide optimal service to the American people