The Senate confirms that Tom Vilsack will again serve as Secretary of Agriculture

The vote was 92-7.

Vilsack, 70, will now be tasked with helping farmers plagued by former President Donald Trump’s trade wars and the coronavirus epidemic, which has sickened thousands of workers in meat packing plants and deepened the challenges of hunger and food insecurity.

During his confirmatory hearing earlier this month, Vilsack made it clear that the challenges facing the Department of Agriculture are different from those of 12 years ago.

“The world and our nation today is different than when I served as Secretary of Agriculture in a previous administration,” Vilsack said. “Today, pandemics, racial justice, justice and climate change must be our top priorities.”

Biden announced the election in December, praising Vilsack for his efforts to implement the post-recession recovery law, expand farmers ’markets, improve food safety standards and“ get healthy meals for millions of children and families ”. Former President Barack Obama has also elected Vilsack to address the elimination of heroin and other opiate use in rural communities.

Biden called, “The best agricultural secretary, I think this country has ever had.”

Vilsack has to contend with the caution of progressive groups who have claimed that Vilsack is too close to agricultural companies. Vilsack also clashed with opposition from civil rights groups who criticized the dismissal of a black agricultural department official Shirley Sherrod more than a decade ago after Breitbart published a misleading video clip that falsely suggested he was racist. (Vilsack apologized and tried to readmit him).

Vilsack is urged to meet the needs of rural communities who have overwhelmingly supported Trump over Biden and are worried that Democrats will adopt new rules.

Vermont’s independent senator Bernie Sanders has joined six Republicans to vote against the nomination.

“I think we need a little stronger in protecting family farms and taking on corporate agriculture,” Sanders told reporters. “I think he’ll be fine, but he’s not as strong as I’d like.”

Vilsack and his wife, Christie, approved Biden on the Iowa board and campaigned aggressively for him. Biden took fourth place, which he called an “internal blow” at the time, but thanked the Vilsacks several times for their support.

In 1998, Vilsack became the first Democrat elected Iowa governor in more than 30 years. From 1999 to 2007, he served as governor and was president of the Union of Democratic Governors for a year. In 2009, the Senate unanimously confirmed Vilsack to be Secretary of Agriculture.

After his resignation in 2017, Vilsack became chairman and CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council. Last year, he won the $ 150,000 Powerball Prize in the Iowa Lottery.

This story was updated on Tuesday with further enhancements.

CNNs Ted Barrett, Arlette Saenz and Kate Sullivan contributed to the report.