Senate confirms Vilsack to lead USDA again in 92-7 vote
In an overwhelming vote of 92-7, the U.S. Senate voted Feb. 23 to confirm Tom Vilsack as the agriculture secretary, a role he fulfilled for eight years under the Obama administration. In his confirmation hearing, Vilsack emphasized that “biofuels continue to play a role in reducing emissions and providing job opportunities in all parts of the country.”
The biodiesel and soy industries expressed appreciation for Vilsack’s return to lead the USDA.
“On behalf of the National Biodiesel Board’s members, I want to congratulate Secretary Vilsack and thank him for his commitments to the Renewable Fuel Standard and to continuing to build infrastructure for higher blends of biodiesel,” said Kurt Kovarik, vice president of federal affairs for NBB. “The biodiesel industry very much looks forward to working with him to ensure that biodiesel, renewable diesel and sustainable aviation fuels continue to be key components of the nation’s efforts to meet climate goals while also growing rural economies.”
The American Soybean Association described Vilsack as a “staunch supporter for renewable fuel initiatives, biotechnology advances, fair trade agreements and preserving the farm safety net.”
ASA President Kevin Scott said, “We appreciate that Secretary Vilsack always supported farmers and understood that they are a driving force for the rural economy. We are confident that he will continue to support producers and appreciate his ongoing commitment to seeking farmer input.”
Monte Shaw, Iowa Renewable Fuels Association executive director, said he looks forward to working with Vilsack again. “Whether serving as USDA secretary, Iowa’s governor, or a private citizen, Secretary Vilsack has never forgotten the value biofuels bring to American agriculture and the air we breathe,” Shaw said. “We are confident that during his tenure at USDA he will continue to be a strong champion for ethanol and biodiesel, working hand in hand with his colleagues in the administration to ensure biofuels are given every opportunity to help reduce this country’s carbon footprint and dependence on fossil fuels.”
The U.S. biodiesel and renewable diesel industry supports 65,000 U.S. jobs and more than $17 billion in economic activity each year. Every 100 million gallons of production supports 3,200 jobs and $780 million in economic opportunity. Biodiesel production supports approximately 13 percent of the value of each U.S. bushel of soybeans.