The U.S. Senate has confirmed President Biden’s nominee for Agriculture Secretary, Tom Vilsack, to once again lead the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). During his confirmation hearing, Vilsack vowed to “aggressively” seek input from farmers about how agriculture could be integrated into the Biden Administration’s climate change policies. He emphasized policies based on voluntary financial incentives to farmers to adopt more climate-friendly practices. Vilsack also pledged to “root out” a legacy of racism at the USDA, which includes a series of class-action lawsuits for discriminating against minority farmers in loan and aid programs.
Vilsack, a former two-term Governor of Iowa, led the USDA for eight years under President Obama. During his tenure, he oversaw initiatives to increase rural investments, improve the nation’s school meal system, and increase food safety standards. He received his BA from Hamilton College and his JD from Albany Law School.
The Senate also confirmed two-term Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm (D) to lead the Department of Energy (DOE), which has an annual budget of $35 billion. Granholm pledged to prioritize jobs and clean energy technologies during her confirmation hearing.
Granholm previously served as the Attorney General of Michigan and advisor to the Pew Charitable Trusts’ Clean Energy Program. She is a professor at the University of California’s Goldman School of Public Policy and is a Senior Research Fellow at the Berkeley Center for Information Technology Research in the Interests of Society (CITRIS). Granholm received her BA from University of California, Berkeley and her JD from Harvard Law School.