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Contact: Johanna Kichton, 202.660.0605, 

WASHINGTON, DC—People’s Action Senior Strategist for Rural People and Planet First Campaigns Shawn Sebastian today released the following statement in response to President-elect Biden’s official nomination of Tom Vilsack to lead the Department of Agriculture (USDA): 

“It is a huge mistake by President-elect Biden’s transition team to completely dismiss the swift, strong, and clear reaction against Tom Vilsack from the Black voters who delivered Biden his victory and the rural voters he most needs to win over.

“Because of his previous record as USDA Secretary and his ongoing work, Vilsack was utterly rejected as unacceptable by organizations and elected officials representing Black people, multiple Black farmers groups, the NAACP, USDA employees, and even Majority Whip Rep. Clyburn, who turned the tide in the Democratic primary for Biden.

“Vilsack has also been explicitly and repeatedly rejected by rural community-based organizations, family farm advocates, workers, and environmentalists. Vilsack’s record and vision for rural America has been soundly rejected by rural voters at the ballot box over and over again, each time worse than the last.

“We need the Biden administration to govern at the scale of the multiple crises we face and his transition team has made a completely avoidable, self-inflicted injury by appointing Tom Vilsack to USDA.”


People’s Action is a national network of 40 state and local grassroots, power-building organizations united in fighting for justice. We operate the largest progressive rural organizing project in the country. People’s Action and its member organizations coordinated one of the biggest distributed organizing programs in rural areas this election season. 

Press Contact
Johanna Kichton

(202) 660-0605

About People’s Action Institute

Over five decades, People’s Action Institute and our affiliates have fought for reforms that recognize poor and working people’s dignity and make material and political improvements to millions of lives. Our victories include the Community Reinvestment Act, Superfund, the Affordable Care Act, the Dodd-Frank Financial Reform Act and the MAT Act.

We engage in issue campaigns, public education and training to advance a long-term agenda for racial, economic and gender justice. Our focus now is on deepening community organizing so we can build lasting power across the country. 

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