With the announcement of a new Secretary of Agriculture only days old, radical animal rights groups are already putting on the pressure for changes in animal agriculture policy. Tom Vilsack will not take office for at least another month, but the radical group Farm Sanctuary is already putting him under attack. "Vilsack has an uneven track record when it comes to farm animals and fighting factory farming," said Gene Baur, president and co-founder of Farm Sanctuary. "He has supported some animal protection measures and has at times stood up to Big Ag, yet he has also taken actions that are not in the best interest of farm animals and rural communities," Baur added, noting that during Vilsack;s tenure as governor of Iowa the state saw a proliferation of massive hog farms.

Kay Johnson Smith, Executive Director of the Animal Agriculture Alliance, told HAT agriculture can not take Vilsack’s support of animal agriculture for granted, “It behooves us to meet with him up front and to make sure he understands our commitment to animal welfare and our commitment to be good stewards of the land.” She urged animal and agriculture organizations to individually and collectively stress to the new Secretary the importance of animal agriculture.

“This is not a time for us to be complacent, but a time to remind Vilsack that USDA was founded as the people‘s department, not the factory farmers‘ department," Baur said. Smith says this is a sign that the animal rights movement has targeted Congress for increased pressure to get support for their anti-agriculture agenda, “The new Congress is more open to certain items of the animal rights agenda, and that is what they are counting on.” She added it is vital that the agricultural industry present a united front to educate Congress on the importance of animal agriculture to the food supply and the economy. Smith was one of the speakers at the Indiana Livestock Forum, held last week in Indianapolis.