Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture

Tom Vilsack

Secretary of Agriculture

Thomas James Vilsack was born in December 1950 in a Roman Catholic orphanage in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He was adopted early the next year. He earned an undergraduate degree from Hamilton College and a Juris Doctor from Albany Law School.

He served six years as the Mayor of Mount Pleasant, Iowa, then six more years as a member of the Iowa Senate. For eight years after that, he was the Governor of Iowa.

Vilsack was nominated by President Barack Obama to be the Secretary of Agriculture. He was confirmed by the unanimous consent of the Senate and assumed office in January 2009. After his full-term tenure expired, he became president and CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council.

He was nominated by President Joe Biden to be Secretary of Agriculture and was confirmed by the Senate. He assumed office in February 2021.

Vilsack is married to Ann Christine “Christie” Bell, and they have two sons.

In the News…

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced new school food guides being proposed by the U.S. Department’s Food and Drug Administration. He said, “The purpose of this is to improve the health and welfare of our children. And I think everybody who comes to this issue shares that goal and hopefully, collectively, we can make sure it happens.” 

The federally assisted school meal program serves more than 15.3 million children each day with breakfast and 29.6 million who get a school lunch. Guidelines for school meals are established to be nutritious and in accordance with U.S. Dietary Guidelines. 

Under the proposal, flavored milk with “reasonable limits on added sugars” would be allowed, because that is what the kids want, Vilsack said. “We want to encourage kids to drink milk because there is tremendous nutritional value in milk.” 

The new standards would limit added sugars in high-sugar products like packaged muffins, yogurt, and cereal. It would also reduce sodium limits, but that would happen across several school years. “The [US Food and Drug Administration] provided some insight and direction by suggesting that it is easier for people to accept and adapt to reduced sodium if you do it over a period of time in small increments,” Vilsack said. 

The Buy American program that encourages locally grown food to be used by schools would also be strengthened under the new guidelines. 

Contact this Leader…

Did you pray for Secretary Vilsack today? You can let him know at:

The Honorable Tom Vilsack, Secretary
U.S. Department of Agriculture
1280 Maryland Ave SW
Washington, DC 20250


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