Decision Maker

Tom Vilsack

  • Secretary, U.S. Department of Agriculture

Thomas James "Tom" Vilsack is an American politician who has served as the United States Secretary of Agriculture since 2009. A member of the Democratic Party, Vilsack served as the 40th Governor of Iowa from 1999 to 2007.

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Petitioning Tom Vilsack

USDA: Stop labeling factory farm chicken as “humanely raised”

My name is Craig Watts, and I’m a farmer for one of the biggest chicken companies in the United States -- Perdue. After 22 years under contract, I couldn’t stay silent any longer about the so-called “humanely raised” and “cage free” chicken consumers often pay a premium for at the supermarket. Consumers were being hoodwinked, so I joined forces with Compassion in World Farming to open the doors of my chicken houses to the world. Consumers were right to be outraged, and this is a chance to take action. Please sign our petition asking the USDA to stop putting their stamp of approval on factory farmed meat.  When the USDA Process Verified label appears on chicken, we should feel good about buying it for our families, right? These chickens are verified by the USDA to be “humanely raised” and “cage free,” but that does not have any real meaning. If you want proof, look no further than this video The Washington Post says “flies in the face of Perdue's marketing, and … undermines the credibility of labeling that has been vetted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.”  Nearly all chickens raised for meat, including those in the USDA’s Process Verified Program, live in dimly lit barns with no access to natural light. With 30,000 birds crowded into one house, each chicken has less than a single square foot of space. The chickens are genetically bred to grow so big, so quickly their legs often cannot support their own unnaturally large weight. Last year, Perdue was sued for false labeling and agreed to remove the word “humane” from its chicken packaging. So why is the USDA still verifying these chickens, and others raised in similar conditions, as humane? The cage free claim is also misleading because no meat chicken in America is ever raised in a cage.  There is nothing humane about factory farming. The solution lies in consumers demanding transparency and accountability from the industry and the government.  Compassion in World Farming has attempted to work with the USDA on this issue, and two prominent US Senators recently urged the USDA to update their labeling policy to ensure meaningful animal welfare claims. Despite these efforts, the USDA has done nothing. It’s time for consumers to let their voice be heard. Please join me and Compassion in World Farming in asking USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack to stop verifying factory farmed chicken as “humanely raised” and “raised cage free.” Consumers deserve better.

Craig Watts and Compassion in World Farming
122,448 supporters
Petitioning Tom Vilsack

Help Stop the Relentless Wolf Killing in Idaho

Wildlife Services has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from Idaho Governor Butch Otter’s Wolf Depredation Control Board to help carry out the state’s relentless wolf killing program. The goal: to artificially boost elk numbers for sport hunters and outfitters. It is simply shocking for Secretary Vilsack to allow his Wildlife Services employees to contract themselves out as sharpshooters to kill wolves from the air, especially on Forest Service lands. It is equally shocking for the Forest Service, which is also under the control of Secretary Vilsack, to stand by and allow their Wildlife Service colleagues to kill wolves on our national forest lands. Please take immediate action and tell the Secretary of Agriculture to order Wildlife Services to stop killing wolves on U.S. Forest Service lands!

Defenders of Wildlife
54,498 supporters
Petitioning Sally Jewell

Protect the Places We Play - #LiveMonumental

Right now we are uniquely poised to encourage our President to protect more than 3 million acres of our public land through designating Boulder-White Clouds, Gold Butte, Mojave Trails, Birthplace of Rivers, and Owyhee Canyonlands as National Monuments.  These five incredible places are an instrumental part of America’s natural and cultural heritage, contribute to regional economies across the United States, and are celebrated and shared resources that Americans enjoy through numerous outdoor recreation activities.  The protection afforded through the National Monument designation of these places will contribute to the legacy of our country’s public lands and ensure these incredible landscapes remain a proud definition of America. Since we launched the campaign, two of the five places have been protected: Boulder White Clouds was designated Wilderness in August 2015, and Mojave Trails was designated a National Monument in February 2016. The movement is just getting started... We need you're voice.

KEEN, Inc.
11,545 supporters
Petitioning Dr. Chester Gipson, Deputy Administrator USDA APHIS (Deputy Administrator)


  "SORING" Tennessee Walking Horses is animal cruelty and a crime. These noble horses are the ONLY breed in the WORLD shown in heavy Stacked Shoes with Chains on their legs. Over 50% of the Horses inspected by the USDA Vets at the 2014 Tennessee Walking Horse Celebration in Shelbyville, Tennessee were "SORE". “Soring” is the illegal and cruel practice of using chemical and mechanical methods to create pain in a gaited show horse€™'s front legs to exaggerate their animated step.   The Horses are forced to perform the CRUEL and unnatural high stepping "Big Lick" gait".   The rich and influential people HURTING these Horses have now used political influence to force the USDA into making a Rule Change. Under the 2014 "SCAR RULE",  if a Horse had "SCARS" on both front legs,  it was disqualified from showing.   The 2015 "SCAR RULE" permits certain "SCARS" to be on the Horses front legs, and still allows them to show.    In plain English, the 2015 "SCAR RULE" says "if you can push on the SCAR with your fingers and spread or flatten it out, then it isn't a SCAR." These "SCARS" result from "Training" the "Big Lick" Tennessee Walking Horse by putting harsh burning chemicals on their front legs, and then putting Chains on top of them. The flesh is injured, and "SCARS" develop.  A salicylic acid mix is used to try and burn off the "SCARS". The new 2015 "SCAR RULE" change will HURT the Horses. Sound Horse organizations FOSH (Friends of Sound Horses) and AAWHA (All American Walking Horse Alliance)  protest and object to the new 2015 USDA "SCAR RULE" change. The 2015 "Big Lick" Show Season starts at the Mississippi Charity Horse Show on March 26 - 28 in Jackson, Mississippi.  Last week, UMMC (University of Mississippi Medical Center) cut ties with the event, and refused to accept donations due to the controversy surrounding the abuse of Tennessee Walking Horses. Now is the time to let the USDA know that the American Public opposes the 2015 "SCAR RULE" change. Horses should NOT be HURT and "SCARRED" for the sake of rich people enjoying institutionalized animal abuse in the name of family entertainment. This cruelty to horses should definitely not be in the view of families and children There's not much time, so let's please all stand up for "The Horses". Please Sign this Petition, and an automatic email will deliver your message to: • Tom Vilsack, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture• Kevin Shea, Administrator -USDA APHIS• Chester Gipson, Deputy Administrator - USDA APHIS "The Horses" are depending on US to protect them.

Joanna Blue
10,993 supporters
Petitioning Tom Vilsack, Barack Obama

Finalize The Federal Rule To Abolish "Big LIck" Animal Cruelty To Tennessee Walking Horses

Please SIGN this Petition to ABOLISH “Big Lick” Animal Cruelty to beautiful Tennessee Walking Horses. The welfare of "The Horses" should be above Politics. Over 95% of the persons 'commenting'  are "FOR"  the proposed Federal Rule which will abolish "Big Lick" Animal Cruelty to Tennessee Walking Horses. CCABLAC joins with Tea Party Conservative Republican Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL) and Blue Dog Democrat Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-OR), both large animal vets,  in urging U. S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack,  and U. S. President Barack Obama,  to act expeditiously to do all things necessary to finalize the proposed Federal Rule.  On October 24, 2016, Reps. Yoho - Schrader, along with 179 other Congressmen, signed a Letter making it clear that the ONLY EQUINES that the proposed Rule would affect are: Tennessee Walking Horses, Racking Horses, and Spotted Saddle Horses The "Comment" period ended on October 26, 2016, with a total of                   73,933 Total Comments: FOR:         70,292 (95%)AGAINST:   3,641 (5%) Once done, the Federal Rule abolishing "Big Lick" Animal Cruelty will be published in the Federal Register as part of the Horse Protection Act of 1970, as amended, and it will be become law. "WE, The People" - CCABLAC (Citizens Campaign Against "Big Lick" Animal Cruelty) has led the fight against abolishing "Big Lick" Animal Cruelty. Over 200,000+ signing Change.Org Petitions, and 26 peaceful public protests from the Gulf of Mexico at Panama City Beach, Florida to the Blue Ridge Mountains of Asheville, North Carolina. After you SIGN, please SHARE the petition with your friends and family via email, Facebook, and Twitter!    Your PETITION Signatures and Comments will be delivered to the proper officials. "WE, The People", CCABLAC (Citizens Campaign Against "Big Lick" Animal Cruelty)  

Mary Smith
10,913 supporters
Petitioning Tom Vilsack

Create a Vegan-Friendly Food Pyramid

USDA is working on a revision of the food pyramid, which is used as a guideline for how people should ideally eat and to educate people about nutrition. However, it continues to emphasize meat and dairy products without providing alternatives for those who choose a plant-based diet for health or ethical reasons. In a recent report, the USDA itself called for a shift toward a more plant-based diet, however, the well-publicized food pyramid continues to pander to the interests of animal agriculture. Urge the USDA to incorporate a list of healthy alternatives to animal-based foods in their 2010 food pyramid. Photo credit: adactio
3,245 supporters
Petitioning Tom Vilsack, Daniel M. Ashe, Kevin Shea

Make owning large exotic animals illegal

When large exotic animals are kept as pets in US households, they are often treated inhumanely. As an animal lover and an advocate for animal rights, I believe this cruelty needs to end.  Alabama, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, West Virginia, and Wisconsin still have no laws regarding the ownership of exotic pets.  This means any person can own as many exotic animals as they want, without any kind of licensing.  Through this petition I am hoping to change that fact, by making a federal law against owning large exotic animals in the United States.  This petition will be sent to members of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) , and U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services (APHIS) who all take part in legislation around ownership, trade, and importation.  If this petition works, and we can create a federal law against owning exotic animals, countless animals will be saved from cruelty and inhumane conditions.  If you are an animal lover and animal rights activist, like me, please take the time to sign this petition.

Claire Durkin
2,598 supporters
Petitioning Tom Vilsack


Representative Yoho, As the Sponsor of the House PAST ACT (Prevent All Soring Tactics),  would you please ask U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, as a special favor,  to please allow America's Tennessee Walking Horse,  Gen's Ice Glimmer, to be transported and presented for educational purposes across America so people can learn about Big Lick Animal Cruelty. The Horse Protection Act restricts the transport of "Scarred" TWH to certain events, i.e., horse shows, sales, expos, horse park events.   The USDA enforces the Horse Protection Act. To educate the public,  Gen's Ice Glimmer, #24704770, Blood Type # TWT050457, wants official permission from the USDA to travel to Vet Schools, College Campuses, Horse Shows, Horse Parks and Horse venues.   Glimmer will be presented so the public can see his permanent Big Lick scars, and also the natural gait of a flat shod Tennessee Walking Horse.   On April 5, 2013,  Glimmer was tortured on the main campus of MTSU (Middle Tennessee State University) by a Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration Judge.  The show was named MTSU Walking For Education Horse Show, and it was held at the Tennessee Livestock Center. Almost 11,000 people have now signed a Change.Org asking MTSU President Dr. Sidney A. McPhee to sever all ties with Big Lick Animal Cruelty, and to ban Big Lick TWH from MTSU property.   These people are from every state and over 85 foreign countries. Please read about Glimmer's story here: Dr. Yoho, when you have a chance,  Gen's Ice Glimmer, #24704770, Blood Type # TWT050457,  would sure like to meet you in Washington,D.C.,  and thank you for everything that you and all the Congressmen are doing to help his brothers and sisters who are still living in pain every day.   Glimmer also wants to meet and thank all the USDA APHIS Administrators and Vets who strongly enforced the HPA "Scar Rule"and disqualified 35% of Big LickTWH inspected at the 2015 Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration. When would be a good time for you?

Citizens Campaign Against Big Lick Animal Cruelty
2,396 supporters
Petitioning Donald Beyer, Tom Vilsack, U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)

Petition for Stricter Pet Protection Laws

In October 2016, two kittens were used as bait for a dog fight. Their legs were tied up so they couldn't run away and so the dogs could learn to fight and not be harmed. Despite the veterinarian’s best efforts, one of these kittens had to be euthanized because of her injuries. We need to give animals that are kept as pets the protections they deserve and obtain support from the government to achieve this. Pets need to have stricter protection laws. Harsher laws need to be enacted to punish those who intentionally abuse, neglect, or abandon animals. Our legal system does very little to punish people for harming these defenseless animals. A change needs to take place to help protect pets that can’t defend themselves. An example of a very poor law is, what happens in Virginia when someone is convicted for abandoning a dog. Well, it is classified as “highway littering” with a fine of $250 to $2500 or imprisonment of up to 12 months. But the sentence can be suspended if the defendant offers to remove litter from the highway. Abandoning a live animal is classified as littering. That's what our legal system thinks of our beloved pets, they are equivalent to trash. Some animals can't experience the life they were meant to have because they are stuck in factories where they are prodded with needles and experimental products. Those animals don't get a choice, they are picked for these experiments at an early age and don't know any other life. According to PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), “U.S. law allows animals to be burned, shocked, poisoned, isolated, starved, drowned, addicted to drugs, and brain-damaged.” Pain-killers aren't event required. Your lipsticks and shampoos are also tested on these animals.  Every year, over 100,000 million animals are killed in this manner. But that doesn't have to be the case. There are alternatives to testing on animals, such as tests that use human tissue and cells or computers that can simulate human biology. Also, animals can have different reactions than humans which doesn’t makes this testing ideal. Animal testing, if essential, needs to be performed in the most humane manner possible. Otherwise, it should be eliminated and alternative methods should be identified and used. If you purchased your dog from a pet store, they were probably bred at a puppy mill.  Puppy mills are horrible practices that breed puppies in unsanitary and overcrowded conditions. Mother dogs are bred as frequently as possible, then killed when they can no longer reproduce. Puppies are kept in wire cages which hurt the puppies’ paws, and most of the time, cages are stacked on top of each other. These dogs receive little to no veterinary care and suffer from many diseases, and emotional problems, such as anxiety. There are dogs and cats dying on the street because there are not enough homes and shelters for them, and then there are puppy mills breeding more dogs and producing over 2 million dogs a year. Puppy mills are only interested in making money off of these animals. Their practices are inhuman and traumatic for animals and this practice needs to end. Puppy mills should be illegal. A pet is not a piece of property we can neglect and abuse, they are living beings that deserve our love and affection. Please sign this petition and support this movement to gain stricter protection laws for animals. Your voice matters in helping animals gain the protection they deserve.     My Sources:—why-are-some-cosmetic-companies-still-testing-on-animals/

Megan Alexander
1,309 supporters
Petitioning Charles Schumer, Charlie Baker, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), Andrew Cuomo, John McCain, Greg Abbott, Richard Blumenthal, Richard Burr, Bill Haslam, Michael Bennet, Tammy Bald...

Reunite the Parents and Children Separated at the US-Mexico Border

A few days ago, President Trump signed an Executive Order so that immigrant families will no longer be separated at the border. Now, the approximately 2,500 children who were taken from their parents before the Executive Order was signed need to be reunited with their families. This isn't a "left" or a "right" issue. It's about all of us doing the right thing together. The fact is, needlessly keeping mothers and fathers apart from their children is not who we are as Americans—regardless of whether you're a Republican or Democrat, conservative or liberal. Please help us reunite these families. And thank you. 

Michael Hurley
150 supporters