Tom Vilsack Appointed Secretary of Agriculture

Posted by April Nockleby, ALDF's Online Content Manager on December 17, 2008

President-elect Barack Obama has selected former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack to head the Department of Agriculture. Vilsack has an animal-friendly record relative to some of the other candidates who had been mentioned in connection with this critical position. While Vilsack has some potentially worrying ties to Iowa agribusiness, he has shown leadership in questioning the U.S., agricultural subsidy system. According to the Mike Markarian of the Humane Society Legislative Fund:

“[Vilsack] has a solid record on animal protection. As chief executive, he didn’t address the most complex issues such as the massive pollution from hog factory farms, but he advocated for bills to toughen the state’s penalties for animal fighting, and he stood up to the hunting lobby and vetoed legislation that would have allowed the target shooting of mourning doves for the first time in decades.”

Thank you to all of our advocates who responded to ALDF’s Actionline alert and contacted the President-elect urging him to appoint an animal-friendly Secretary of Agriculture.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees a broad range of laws directly impacting the welfare of millions of animals, has more influence on how animals in the United States are treated than any other federal Department. The Animal Legal Defense Fund looks forward to working with Vilsack to enact stronger laws that protect animals.

Also announced yesterday was the appointment of Colorado Senator Ken Salazar, a hunter and member of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus, as the secretary of the Interior Department. The Department of the Interior oversees such agencies as the Bureau of Land Management, the United States Geological Survey, and the National Park Service, and is charged with overseeing oil and gas drilling on public lands and managing the nation’s parks and wildlife refuges.

As a senator, Salazar received a 25% on the most recent Humane Scorecard from Humane USA.  That’s way below the democratic average of 60%, and is just barely above the republican average of 24%.  He scored a perfect 0 on the previous scorecard.

Salazar’s animal protection record is of great concern, and the Animal Legal Defense Fund will be keeping a close eye on him to ensure that our nation’s wildlife is protected.