Iowa’s Vilsack Likely Pick For Secretary of Agriculture

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.

Daily Kos.
Firedoglake

Don’t forget the Secretary of Agriculture

USDA has important wildlife, forestry, land and food safety jurisdiction-

Most of our concern has been about the secretary of Interior, but the Secretary of Agriculture is equally important and almost always goes to some minion of industrial ag.

So far the names floated by Obama don’t look good. Originally Obama was considering the industrial apologist, Iowa governor Tom Vilsack for the position, but grassroots opposition (or something) caused him to drop Vilsack.

Now the leading name is Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn).  Peterson, like Vilsack is a promoter of corporate industrial agriculture. He is the head of the House Agriculture Committee. He is a no change candidate.

Personally, I am tired of spending hour after hour shopping trying to determine which products are more or less safe. There was a time when you didn’t have to worry so. That was before food inspections were cut back and dubious ingredients added from suspect places like China (think melamine)

USDA policies turned Iowa from a state with diverse agriculture into one big corn field. Michael Pollan tells how that happened in “Omnivores Dilemma.”

The U.S. Forest Service is in the Dept. of Agriculture as well as rouge agencies like APHIS and Wildlife Services.

Please take the time to share your insights and views about the Secretary of Agriculture at: http://change.gov/

Addition: an interesting article on the importance of change.gov. Dan Froomkin. Washington Post.

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Here are some ideas. Perhaps a visionary like Michael Pollan (Omnivores Dilemma) for a top USDA positions. Here are some other progressive candidates for high-level USDA positions. Jim Riddle, a national organic farmer leader, Texas populist Jim Hightower, Tom Buis from the National Farmers Union, and Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie. You can read the profiles of some of these possible USDA appointees here.

Note: I grabbed the above from an alert from the Organic Consumers. RM