Tom Vilsack Named Secretary of Agriculture

Tom Vilsack Named Secretary of Agriculture

Despite the short list of candidates released obama-to-name-agriculture-secretary-soon/">last week, President Elect Obama has chosen former Iowa governor Tom Vilsack as his Secretary of Agriculture. This is considered a controversial move by some, particularly the Organic Consumers Association, who protested when Vilsack was first considered a candidate. The OCA organized a campaign which resulted in 20,000 emails being sent to Obama's transition team, after which Vilsack's name was removed from the list of consideration. Time Magazine calls Vilsack "not an ideal choice for advocates of sustainable agriculture." As governor of Iowa, Vilsack presided over the largest increase in feedlot agriculture in the state's history. Despite his close ties to Big Agriculture, Vilsack has been an outspoken proponent of renewable energy. He supports corn subsidies for ethanol production, and has favored wind farms and farm conservation measures. Vilsack's appointment is good news for the alternative fuel coalition, but bad news for the anti-GMO crowd. Vilsack was named Governor of the Year by the Biotechnology Industry Organization in 2001. Although Vilsack has said that he wants to promote organic farming, the BIO has pushed "to expand the definition of USDA Organic to include cloned animals." Tom Vilsack was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and orphaned at birth. He was elected governor of Iowa in 1998, and won a second term in 2002. In 2006, Vilsack announced his intentions to run as a Democratic candidate for the 2008 presidential election, although he dropped out of the race in February, citing financial concerns.