After eight years (almost) as the U.S. Agriculture Secretary, Tom Vilsack has decided to leave his post one week before his term officially ends.
According to USDA officials, today, Vilsack sent the following message to all USDA employees:
“I want to take this opportunity on my final day at USDA to express my profound gratitude to the people who work at USDA. Every day, nearly 90,000 people leave their families and the comfort of their home to do the people’s work in the People’s Department. What an amazing job you do each day for the country.
“Your work allows America to have the most productive farmers, ranchers, and producers in the world. Your work protects our families from unsafe food and our homes from dangerous forest fires. Your work ensures that struggling families have enough to eat and our school children have more nutritious meals and snacks. Your work protects our soil and water and creates new products in labs and universities that improve our quality of life. Your work reflects the compassion of our country for those in need in other countries. Your work supports the creation of new businesses and guarantees that communities large and small are great places to live, work, and raise families. Your work inspires people all over America to buy local and support agriculture regardless of size or method of production. Your work fights against the destruction of invasive species and diseases while insuring against losses that occur when storms, droughts, and floods occur.
“Your work enables all the work just outlined to happen because you are in the background making sure our operations run smoothly, regardless of where in the world they might be. Each of you and those who have come before you are part of an extraordinary group of people who proudly and honorably serve the greatest nation on earth.
“I wish each of you all the best. I have been honored to be one of you. I have been honored to serve President Obama and Vice President Biden. I have been honored to serve my country. I will always love the people I worked with at USDA and the people we work for.”
UPDATE (Jan. 19, 2017): The U.S. Dairy Export Council has announced that Vilsack will join the organization as President and CEO, effective Feb. 1.