U.S. Dairy Export Council CEO Tom Vilsack’s salary in the spotlight this week. Vilsack, who served as agriculture secretary during President Barack Obama’s administration, was paid $999,421 in 2018. An informal poll on DairyHerd.com shows most farmers think Vilsack’s salary is unfitting. In fact, 83% of the 189 producers who voted said his salary was inappropriate.
Despite such a small majority of farmers (17%) said they think his salary is appropriate, most of the farmers who left comments on social media say he’s worth every dime he’s paid.
Here’s a sample of the comments on our Facebook page:
“You get what you pay for. The DMI and USDEC executives are well worth what they are paid. Remember that dairy farmers determine and vote on those compensation packages.”
“We have sold $970 million dollars of additional exports since Secretary Vilsack took over as CEO of US dairy export council.”
“Dairy farmers are very fortunate to have Secretary Vilsack working for us. He is working hard to develop trade relationships all over the world.”
One producer said Dairy Management Inc. is not transparent enough about how checkoff dollars are spent.
“Maybe if there was more information being put out (transparency) to farmers about what was being done to help the dairy industry by the companies getting money to promote dairy products, then there wouldn't be such animus towards these executives.”
Another producer reminded other farmers that DMI executive salaries are voted on by producer board members.
“Dairy farmers on the DMI Board vote on his salary. They know the expertise and network of contacts he brings to the table and what that is worth.”