From The Milkweed, the insurgent dairy industry monthly publication that acts as a watchdog for family-scale dairy farmers. OrganicEye’s Mark Kastel has been a frequent contributor over the year and is officially one of its associate editors. For subscription information:

Now that former USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack’s name is, once again, being circulated as a possible candidate for secretary by the incoming Biden administration, his behavior in and out of office should become a matter of scrutiny. During his tenure during the Obama administration, the USDA unilaterally (and OrganicEye and Beyond Pesticides alleged, illegally) changed the rules of the game in terms of organic regulatory oversight (weakening them significantly).


Article originally published by Pete Hardin at

We won’t see former USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack in line, waiting to pick up a “Food Box” distributed by his former agency.

The Milkweed is happy to report that Vilsack, who now serves as the head of the United States Dairy Export Council (USDEC), continues to pad his income with a side gig working for Purdue Pharma, the embattled, bankrupt manufacturer/marketer of opioid drugs.  Despite earning nearly $1,000,000 per year from USDEC, Vilsack has a side gig, monitoring Purdue Pharma’s outreach effort to victims of the opioid crisis – addicts and their families.

During its bankruptcy proceedings, Purdue Pharma’s website lists payments to major vendors.  Through a third-party law firm, as of May 5, Vilsack had received $55,625 in payments as monitor of Purdue Pharma’s outreach to opioid drug victims.  Not a bad couple days work.  Vilsack was appointed the opioid drug outreach monitor in February 2020.

As this publication has reported in the past, Vilsack earned just short of $1 million in 2018 as head of the USDEC.   Given that level of income, and the importance of boosting this nation’s dairy exports, it’s a puzzle why Vilsack needs a part-time job.  

Purdue Pharma is in bankruptcy, trying to reach financial settlement with thousands of claims filed against it by victims (and their survivors) of the opioid drug crisis.  Purdue Pharma has been accused of heavily peddling highly-addictive opioid drugs, while publicly down-playing the impact of those drugs’ addictive properties.