Keynote speaker: Thomas J. Vilsack, United States Secretary of Agriculture

Thomas J. Vilsack was confirmed as the 32nd United States Secretary of Agriculture on Feb. 23, 2021 by the U.S. Senate. He was nominated by President Joe Biden to return to the role he served for eight years under President Barack Obama.

Under Secretary Vilsack’s leadership, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is building back better by restoring the American economy, strengthening rural and historically underserved communities, responding to threats of climate change, creating good-paying jobs for American workers and the next generation of agricultural leaders, and investing in our kids and our families.

Secretary Vilsack is spearheading a transformation of the food system by creating more, better, and fairer markets and ensuring that the food system of today and the future is more resilient and more competitive globally. It will also offer consumers affordable, nutritious food grown closer to home.

From excessive drought to more extreme fires, our producers, farmers and ranchers are on the frontlines confronting the challenges associated with climate change. USDA is engaging the agriculture and forestry sectors in voluntary, incentive-based climate solutions to improve the resiliency of producers and to build wealth that stays in rural communities. Additionally, USDA is advancing investments in science and research to offer producers a toolbox to adapt to and mitigate climate change.

Secretary Vilsack continues to take bold, historic action to reduce barriers to access for historically underserved communities. By working to ensure all aspects of civil rights and equity are integrated, USDA is rooting out generations of systemic racism and building systems and programs inclusive of all USDA employees and customers.

Secretary Vilsack is also focused on ensuring Americans have consistent access to safe, healthy, and affordable food. USDA is investing in bold solutions that enhance food safety, improve the various far-reaching and powerful nutrition programs in the Department, and reduce food and nutrition insecurity in America.

Ask USDA Secretary Vilsack a question

Iowa has invited former Governor, USDA Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to speak during our Monday morning general session. While we cannot guarantee that he will be there in person, we want to prepare for the possibility. We also want to give you a chance to participate. Maybe you have a question about USDA policies or priorities. The new Farm Bill is scheduled for debate this year, so maybe you have a question about that. We invite you to submit your question for the Secretary of Agriculture. We intend to have Iowa State University President, Dr. Wendy Wintersteen moderate the session and select questions for Mr. Vilsack, maybe yours. Send your question for Secretary Vilsack by email to