PETA Pans Vilsack as Agriculture Secretary

For Immediate Release:
December 9, 2020

David Perle 202-483-7382

Washington – President-elect Joe Biden’s secretary of agriculture nominee is Tom Vilsack, who held the position for eight years under President Barack Obama, something animal rights proponents call a “disastrous tenure.” During that time, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) failed miserably to enforce the minimum standards of the federal Animal Welfare Act and consistently prioritized the commercial and environmentally irresponsible interests of animal-based businesses over taking meaningful action to stop the blatant mistreatment of animals on an industrial scale.

As the president and CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council, Vilsack has ties to the dairy industry that are highly objectionable to the growing number of Americans who are vegan and to everyone concerned about the unchecked spread of COVID-19 in slaughterhouses.

Below, please find a statement from PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Rachel Mathews:

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.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit or follow the group on TwitterFacebook, or Instagram.

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind