Tom Vilsack

The White House

After a majority Senate vote, Tom Vilsack is now reprising the role of U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. He said during a news conference that one of his biggest priorities is responding to the pandemic.

When President-elect Joe Biden picked Tom Vilsack to head the U.S. Department of Agriculture, many Black farmers were outraged.

The former governor of Iowa served as agriculture secretary during the Obama administration. Black farmers said Vilsack did nothing to undo decades of racial injustice and discrimination at the department.

AMY MAYER / HARVEST PUBLIC MEDIA

While president-elect Joe Biden has been under pressure to choose a very diverse and forward-thinking cabinet, he’s gone back in time for his nomination to be Secretary of Agriculture.

LUKE RUNYON / HARVEST PUBLIC MEDIA

President-elect Joe Biden is expected to choose Tom Vilsack as the new U.S. secretary of agriculture.

Vilsack, a former Iowa governor, previously served in the position for eight years during the Obama administration. He’s the longest-serving person in the position since Orville Freeman left in 1969.

Rob Larew, president of the National Farmers Union, likes Vilsack’s years of experience.

President-elect Joe Biden plans to nominate Obama Cabinet veteran and former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack as secretary of agriculture, a source familiar with transition discussions confirmed to NPR.

Vilsack returns to an agency he helmed for eight years as Barack Obama's agriculture secretary.

Updated at 7:30 p.m. ET

President-elect Joe Biden is expected to name Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development and former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a source familiar with the transition discussions said Tuesday. The source spoke on condition of anonymity about private conversations.

This has been one of the worst — and most expensive — wildfire seasons ever in the Northwest, where climate change and a history of suppressing wildfires have created a dangerous buildup of fuels.

With fires burning hotter and more intense, there are renewed calls to change how the federal government pays to fight the biggest fires.

"These large and intense fires are a natural disaster in much the same way a hurricane or a tornado or a flood is," U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says. "And they ought to be funded as such through the emergency funding of FEMA."