Leads U.S. Department of Agriculture and is responsible for overseeing U.S. agriculture programs throughout the country and abroad.
Tom Vilsack serves as the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. Vilsack was honored by USGLC at our 2016 Tribute Dinner and has since served as a member of USGLC’s Iowa State Advisory Committee.
Background on his statements on development and diplomacy:
On American global engagement: Throughout his career, Secretary Tom Vilsack has been a strong voice for and supporter of American engagement in the world, often through the lens of economic engagement and strategic investments in agriculture. As Secretary of Agriculture from 2008-20016, he said “the simplest, easiest, and quickest way to develop… a more trusting relationship” with another country “is through agriculture.” Responsible for promoting agriculture exports and global food security programs, Vilsack visited more than 23 countries and made over 35 international trips as Secretary of Agriculture.
On Diplomacy and Development: Vilsack has long urged for America to employ all of its tools of national power to advance our interests, saying, “It’s not just simply about military might, it’s also about how we can help folks be more economically secure, how we can help them reduce poverty, how we can help them reduce pandemics, how we can help them feed their own people and create the middle classes who in turn will be interested in purchasing products from the United States.”
On Global Hunger: As Agriculture Secretary during the Obama Administration, Vilsack, played a key role in hunger and international food aid, overseeing the Food for Peace and McGovern-Dole programs in the International Affairs Budget. He has been a strong advocate, saying “we have a global responsibility to work together” to resolve global challenges adding “agricultural development is also important to our national interests.” He has called American engagement overseas “the classic win-win” in a world that has “changed.”
On Food Security: Vilsack was central in creating the Feed the Future initiative in the Obama Administration, and actively worked to advance the global food security agenda. A vocal advocate for the passage of the Global Food Security Act, he urged Congress “to institutionalize this Feed the Future initiative… because it is the right way to approach these issues, and the most innovative way.” He also spearheaded efforts to reform the Food for Peace program to strengthen its effectiveness and efficiency.
On National Security: When the USGLC honored Secretary Vilsack as a “Heartland Hero” in 2016, he said, “We are going to make sure there are fewer hungry children, and at the end of the day every one of us is going to be safer because of that.”
Vilsack has asserted that “for many countries, a thriving agricultural economy is an important stepping stone out of conflict and into greater security.” He has also said that in addition to the use of military force, “we ought to consider a second front in the war against terrorism and extremism. Our enemy is not a country; our enemy is a condition: poverty, ignorance and hunger. The time has come for America to lead an international effort to eliminate hunger and illiteracy and poverty.”
On the Return on Investment for U.S. States: Vilsack previously served two terms as the Governor of Iowa, in the Iowa State Senate, and as the mayor of Mt. Pleasant, Iowa. As Governor, Vilsack embraced global economic engagement at the state level, saying, “The reality is, in order to create economic opportunity, we have to know about the rest of the world, because the rest of the world is doing business in our state, and companies in our state want to do business in the rest of the world.”