WaPO says environmentalists and “food groups” reacted positively-
Obama to name Vilsack for Agriculture. By Philip Rucker and Dan Morgan. Washington Post Staff Writers.
Vilsack was a popular governor of Iowa. He has been a major politician. His expertise in agriculture seems to come more from being a governor than from intimate knowledge of policy. He has been an ethanol supporter, which many think has been a disaster when made from corn (the source of all U.S. ethanol), but Obama has supported ethanol too.
USDA does more than deal with farming. The Forest Service is a bureau in the agency. Most Secretaries of Ag leave the administration of that Forest Service to the assistant secretary over that area. Sometimes this assistant secretary come from a conservation viewpoint, such as Mike Dombeck under Clinton, or industry such as timber lobbyists Mark Rey under George W. Bush.
The Forest Service itself is formally managed by the Chief Forester which is not a political appointment requiring a nomination followed by a confirmation in the Senate.
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Reaction to Vilsack.