White House Profile
Secretary Tom Vilsack
Secretary of Agriculture

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.

Follow the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Twitter @USDA.

Secretary Tom Vilsack's Posts

  • Serving Rural America’s Kids and Families

    President Obama and Secretary Vilsack meet with eight members of the National 4-H community in the Oval Office. See their inspiring stories about how they are opening up new doors for kids in their hometowns, and how this work is building stronger communities where they can learn, play, and grow.


  • New Approach to Conservation Creates New Partnerships, New Jobs

    The Regional Conservation Partnership Program is leveraging an unprecedented $750 million investment in projects to preserve clean land and water and create new jobs across the country.


  • 2014: A Year of Action, Partnership, and Innovation at USDA

    2014 has been a tremendous year for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the rural families and communities we serve.


  • What USDA Did This Week to Help Rural America:

    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.


  • Making the Business Case for Rural America

    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.


  • Rural-Made Goes Worldwide

    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.


  • Energy and Environment

    USDA’s Climate Hubs: Providing Targeted Solutions to Modern Challenges

    America’s farmers, ranchers and forest landowners face a complex and ever-changing threat in the form of a changing and shifting climate.


  • StrikeForce for Rural Growth and Opportunity Initiative Expands

    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.


  • An Update on the White House Rural Council

    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.


  • Rural

    Strengthening the Rural Economy

    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.


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