Obama to Pick Tom Vilsack To Lead USDA
By Philip Rucker and Dan Morgan
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, December 17, 2008; A15
Former Iowa governor Tom Vilsack, a strong proponent of ethanol who made a brief bid for the presidency in 2007, will be named today as President-elect Barack Obama's nominee for agriculture secretary, a senior Democratic official said.
Obama is expected to announce Vilsack and Sen. Ken Salazar (D-Colo.), his pick for interior secretary, at a news conference in Chicago, as he races to round out his Cabinet before a Christmas vacation. Vilsack, 58, will lead a sprawling federal bureaucracy charged with overseeing farm subsidies, land conservation, food safety and hunger programs.
Both environmentalists and food industry leaders reacted positively to the choice of Vilsack, a political centrist.
"We're encouraged by it," said Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group. "He thinks we need to reform the subsidy system, he recognizes the importance of the food programs, and he's very good on conservation." Read More
We can finally lay all the speculation on who our new Ag Secretary will be. Gov. Vilsack appears to be the pick and he will be under a lot of pressure to oversee major reforms in the department. Many people would like to see USDA leave it’s original purpose, which was to make sure farmers and ranchers in this country were given the tools to provide enough food and fiber to support our population, to one that forces producers into unrealistic production practices. Be prepared to get involved in this argument.