Do you believe in buying and sourcing local? How about eating healthy? Organic? How about making sure it’s grown in a way that heals the soil, is good for the planet, and feeds families?
What about supporting small farmers, investing in rural communities, and sourcing from farmers markets or family farms?
If you believe in or do any, or all, of these things – no matter your political party or affiliation, or even the country you live in – then you probably shouldn’t be a big fan of Tom Vilsack.
Vilsack is Biden’s top pick for leading the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for the next four years.
Some honestly believe Vilsack handled the agricultural affairs of our country well in decades past, especially as part of Obama’s cabinet. But others more strongly believe we’re in sore need of change and someone with more backbone in this time of crisis.
We need someone who will stand up against agricultural corporate interests, pollution, environmental degradation, and protect the small farmers and rural communities.
Sadly, Vilsack has never really stood up for any of these things.
In fact, Vilsack has instead shown time and time again how eager he is to pander to large agricultural businesses. These corporations stifle the growth and livelihoods of small independent family farms (organic and conventional) as well as local food initiatives, all while furthering pollution and topsoil loss.
He’s also shown little interest in making the agricultural system of this country work in the favor of rural communities, families, indigenous, and the working class.
It’s easy to see that Vilsack is a choice to please multiple perspectives on farming in this country, even if it’s at the cost of our environmental and human health future.
But in the end, he pleases absolutely no one who feels strongly or passionately about farming and farmers in any way.
Vilsack stood by while Monsanto and Bayer merged— two companies that have harmed hundreds of thousands of farmers and consumers (and the environment).
Vilsack approved more GMOs than any US Secretary of Ag in history – mostly benefiting the interests of companies like Monsanto, Syngenta, and Dow.
Vilsack helped lobbying that funneled money to the pockets of rich agribusinesses and congressmen who really don’t need it, while small farmers of all kinds struggle to make a living in this country, especially amid tariff wars and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Vilsack has also turned his back on the health, income, and welfare of agricultural workers that put food on our table. Our workers and laborers are just as valuable as farmers to our country’s food system. Vilsack has especially turned his back on Black farmers and other farmers of color struggling to make a living.
After a year like 2020, 2021 should be a year that signifies the charting of a different course. If you love your local and organic food, support small farms, and want to see our farmers succeed on a cleaner earth for tomorrow, we need to make sure that Biden doesn’t get away with this mistake.
By any means necessary, speak up against this appointment!
I repeat – this is not meant to be political, or about 'sides'. This is about farming, food, and the future of human and planetary health. If you live in the US, you can write or call your US Senators and tell them to vote down Tom Vilsack for US Secretary of Ag.
Time is fast running out for us to change our ways.