Ernst Questions Vilsack at Agriculture Committee Confirmation Hearing

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As a member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) today questioned Tom Vilsack at his confirmation hearing to serve as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Ernst emphasized she hopes that, if confirmed, Mr. Vilsack will stand firm with Iowa agriculture as he works to implement policies in the Biden Administration.

Electric Vehicle Executive Order

Ernst noted that Iowa is a top producer of both ethanol and biodiesel, and a new report found that greenhouse gas emissions from corn ethanol are 46% lower than gasoline. However, last week’s Executive Order by President Biden establishes a policy to change the federal fleet over to electric vehicles, and Ernst pressed Vilsack as to whether he will be directing USDA to purchase Tesla trucks that run on electricity or supporting Iowa farmers and purchasing Ford F-150s that run on E-85.

Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS)

Ernst stated that while Vilsack’s former boss, President Obama, made a lot of promises to Iowa’s ag community, he did not follow through on action regarding the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and put forward a Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule that threatened Iowa’s farmers, manufacturers, and small businesses.

Ernst asked Vilsack to look ahead to 2022 and beyond and asked what he will do to uphold the RFS in the face of near unanimous support of electric vehicles among Democrats.