Obama’s Agriculture Secretary Gets Dairy Export Job Before His Term Is Over

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Thomas Phippen Associate Editor
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President Barack Obama’s agriculture secretary officially has a new job helping the dairy industry secure a bigger share of the global market.

Outgoing Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, whose term at the Department of Agriculture ends Friday, will lead the U.S. Dairy Export Council starting Feb. 1, the organization announced Tuesday.

Just a few days after Vilsack left Washington, D.C., and said goodbye to the agency he led for eight years, the Export Council broke the news. (RELATED: Agriculture Secretary First Of Obama’s Cabinet To Leave Town)

As president and CEO of the Council, Vilsack will oversee policy and regulatory affairs, issues he should be familiar with since he directed policy and regulation as head of the USDA for Obama’s entire presidency. Trade is an immensely important issue for dairy producers, who are being hit hard by falling export prices and decreasing overseas demand.

In the face of the dairy difficulties this year, Vilsack engineered a plan to buy several million pounds of surplus cheese stocks to help dairy farmers. (RELATED: US Gov’t Buying Enough Cheddar For 67 MILLION Grilled Cheese Sandwiches)

“Growing the global market for U.S. dairy products is essential to the future of the dairy industry and America’s dairy farmers. I’ve spent my career in public service as a tireless advocate for farmers and American agriculture and can think of no better way to continue this service than by leading the U.S. Dairy Export Council,” said Vilsack.

Vilsack has left USDA and found a new job before President-elect Donald Trump even named his successor. Agriculture is the only remaining cabinet post that Trump must fill.

“I just think it puts the incoming secretary in a tough spot,” Vilsack told the Associated Press about Trump’s delay in nominating a secretary of agriculture.

“When that individual is named, he or she will be at a tremendous disadvantage, in terms of getting up to speed on all this department does.”

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