Our own Bob Collins attends Gov. Vilsack's confirmation hearing for U.S. Secretary of Agriculture

Bob & Janet Collins, Mrs. & Mr. Dusky Terry of CIPCO

Editor’s note: Latham’s own Bob Collins give his account below of this month’s confirmation hearing of Tom Vilsack. We’re proud to have Bob as a member of the Iowa contingent that was on hand to support our former governor for this important appointment.

On Wednesday, January 14, I traveled to Washington D.C. on behalf of Central Iowa Power Cooperative (CIPCO) to attend a U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee hearing.  The purpose of the hearing was to consider the nomination of Tom Vilsack to serve as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, and it was an opportunity for members of the Senate Agriculture Committee to question the nominee.  I was among a small handful of Iowans in the audience to show support for our former Governor.

The hearing lasted approximately two and a half hours and covered a wide range of agricultural topics.  Each Senator was allowed five minutes to question Vilsack.  Many of them spent that time conveying to him the issues they found most important in the Farm Bill or within the Department of Agriculture.  Senator Harkin presided over the hearing as Chair of the Ag Committee and Senator Grassley provided additional comments as well, coming from the home state of the nominee.  Each of the senators present for the hearing expressed support for Vilsack’s nomination and many were complimentary of both Vilsack and his wife, Christie.

The hearing included discussion of agriculture subsidies, conservation programs, renewable energy, forest management, food safety and security, organic foods, biotechnology, revitalization of rural communities, dairy policies, Farm Bill re-authorization, civil rights cases within the Department and a host of other issues.  It was clear there is still strong support from members of the Ag Committee for the consensus policies reflected in the current Farm Bill as well as a feeling that the Department is not implementing it the way they intended.  Vilsack talked in broad terms about his vision for agriculture and a desire to represent all sectors of agriculture.  One theme Vilsack reiterated was his intention to bring updated technology to the Department so they could function more efficiently and provide policy makers the data they need and deserve to make good policy decisions.


Former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack at confirmation hearing

Attending the hearing provided an opportunity for me to see and talk with Senator Harkin, Senator Grassley, Senator Chambliss, Governor Vilsack, and a number of other Ag Committee staffers.  I was interviewed by Philip Brasher of the Des Moines Register about my reaction to the hearing and was mentioned in his story covering the event.