Vilsack as New Secretary of Agriculture

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Dec. 17 (Bloomberg) -- Tom Vilsack, who President-elect Barack Obama may name as his Agriculture secretary choice, will need to act quickly on unimplemented farm subsidies and lower crop prices, commodities and agriculture analysts said.

As the 30th head of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the former Iowa governor, 58, would also be tasked with re-examining the nation’s biofuels policy. He replaces Ed Schafer, who has led the USDA since Jan. 28. Obama plans to make the announcement today at a news conference in Chicago, according to a Democratic official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Vilsack’s experience as a state legislator and leader of the nation’s largest corn-producing state makes him well-qualified to lead the third-largest Cabinet department in spending, said Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Tom Harkin, like the former governor an Iowa Democrat. The USDA has a budget of about $100 billion and 110,000 employees....more