PETA slams Tom Vilsack as Joe Biden picks him as agriculture secy, says he failed to protect animals in Obama-era

The animal welfare body also challenged the agriculture secretary-select to prove his critics wrong in his upcoming tenure


                            PETA slams Tom Vilsack as Joe Biden picks him as agriculture secy, says he failed to protect animals in Obama-era
Tom Vilsack and PETA activists (Getty Images)

President-elect Joe Biden has found himself under pressure while picking faces for his new administration that will take over next month. While his other choices have still managed in striking a balance between the centrist and progressive wings of the Democratic Party, picking Tom Vilsack for the post of agriculture secretary has annoyed a lot of people, especially the farmers of color who believe the man should not be ruled out owing to his civil rights record. Vilsack has been the agriculture secretary in both the terms of former president Barack Obama – another reason why not many have welcomed the idea of picking the soon-to-turn 70-year-old back into the key US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

However, it is not just political quarters or farmers of color who have criticized the decision of the incoming president who wanted somebody with a thorough knowledge of the department’s operations to manage its functioning. Proponents of animal rights have also slammed Vilsack’s eight-year tenure (2009-17) in the agriculture department as “disastrous”. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is also one among them. David Perle, PETA’s media division manager, told MEAWW over email that during his past tenure, Vilsack’s department miserably failed to enforce the minimum standards of the federal Animal Welfare Act and instead “prioritized the commercial and environmentally irresponsible interests of animal-based businesses overtaking meaningful action to stop the blatant mistreatment of animals on an industrial scale”.

He also said that as the president and chief executive of the US Dairy Export Council (a post in which he is serving since early 2017), Vilsack has ties with the dairy industry which several Americans – who are vegan and are concerned over the unchecked spread of the coronavirus in slaughterhouses – find objectionable.

PETA challenges Vilsack to prove his critics wrong

Rachel Mathews, PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement, also slammed the move to pick Vilsack as the agriculture secretary and said the organization challenged him “to prove his many critics wrong by committing to enforcing animal protection laws”. 

“On Tom Vilsack’s watch, the USDA allowed Ringling Bros. circus to force arthritic elephants to perform, left abused tiger cubs to suffer in the filthy cages of “Joe Exotic,” permitted laboratories to keep highly social monkeys in solitary confinement, and permitted much more suffering, turning a blind eye to violations of law. If the agency continues with business as usual, serving the interests of circuses, laboratories, roadside zoos, slaughterhouses, and puppy mills that it now calls its “customers,” animals will suffer greatly. PETA challenges Mr. Vilsack to prove his many critics wrong by committing to enforcing animal protection laws as if lives depended on it—because they do,” she said.