Black Farmers Vilsack

 In this Dec. 11, 2020, file photo former Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who the Biden administration chose to reprise that role, speaks during an event at The Queen theater in Wilmington, Del. Joe Biden's nomination of Vilsack to lead the Agriculture Department is getting a chilly reaction from many Black farmers who contend he didn't do enough to help them the last time he had the job. The former Iowa governor served eight years as agriculture secretary under President Barack Obama.

Tom Vilsack, who served as secretary of agriculture for eight years in the Obama administration, was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on Tuesday for another stint in the same job with the Biden administration.

The vote was 92-7. Both of Colorado's senators, Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper, both of Denver, voted in favor. 

Bennet is a member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, which unanimously recommended Vilsack for confirmation by the full Senate on Feb. 2. 

In a statement following Tuesday's vote, Bennet said “Secretary Vilsack has the experience our nation needs to lead the Department of Agriculture as we fight hunger, tackle climate change, restore our forests, and expand economic opportunity. I’m confident Secretary Vilsack is well-qualified to lead these efforts and help Colorado as communities recover from last year’s devastating wildfires, drought, and the current public health and economic crisis."

Bennet said he applauded Vilsack's comments on forests as critical infrastructure during the confirmation hearing. "I look forward to having Secretary Vilsack visit Colorado to hear from farmers, ranchers, and local governments who are leading the way."

Vilsack has made Colorado a frequent destination, both during his time in the Obama administration and after. Vilsack and his wife, Christie, also worked for Colorado State University starting in 2017; their son, Doug, is assistant director for parks, wildlife and lands at the Colorado Department of Natural Resources.

Until recently, Tom Vilsack, a former governor of Iowa, had been a strategic adviser of food & water initiatives at CSU's National Western Center and global chair for the International Board of Counselors on Food & Water Initiatives. Vilsack also worked with the CSU System and Denver Water on an educational partnership at the new National Western Center in Denver. 

He was in Denver last May for the groundbreaking for the first building on the CSU "Spur" campus at the National Western Center. Known as the VIDA, it includes an equine center, a clinic for companion animals in conjunction with the Dumb Friends League, and will help educate CSU’s veterinary students.

CNN reported Tuesday that Vilsack, 70, will work on helping farmers hard hit by former president Trump's trade wars as well helping the industry recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. The virus has caused outbreaks for thousands of workers at meatpacking plants nationwide including at several in Colorado. 

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