Obama nominates US agriculture secretary

By Anna Austin | January 03, 2009
Web exclusive posted Dec. 19, 2008, at 3:52 p.m. CST

U.S. President-elect Barack Obama recently announced the nomination of Tom Vilsack to his cabinet as secretary of agriculture, a choice which has been positively received by the ethanol and agriculture industries.

Vilsack was governor of Iowa from 1999 to 2007. He was a founding member and chair of the Governors Biotechnology Partnership, the Governors Ethanol Coalition, the Midwest Governor's Conference, and the National Governors Association's Natural Resources Committee.

"Growth Energy joins agricultural producers all over the country in applauding former Iowa governor Tom Vilsack as President-Elect Obama's choice for agriculture secretary," said Toni Nuernberg, executive director of ethanol promoter Growth Energy.

Nuernberg said Growth Energy believes Vilsack's leadership will ensure that American agriculture will continue to be the most innovative and advanced in the world. "As a former governor of a corn-growing state, he also understands the importance of creating green-collar jobs, the critical role our rural communities play in achieving energy security, and the power of clean, green, homegrown energy to power our nation today," she said. "We look forward to working with an Agriculture Department headed by this fine leader and friend to agriculture."

The National Corn Growers Association released a statement congratulating Vilsack on the nomination. "On behalf of NCGA and its members, I would like to extend our congratulations to Tom Vilsack," said Ron Litterer, NCGA chairman. "As a former two-term governor from a state where corn plays such an important role, Vilsack has demonstrated a commitment and deep knowledge of issues ranging from ethanol to conservation."

NCGA president Bob Dickey said Vilsack understands the opportunities and challenges facing the corn industry today. "We feel he is a wise choice to lead the United States Department of Agriculture and look forward to working with him," he said.

National Biodiesel Board Chief Executive Officer Joe Jobe said Vilsack is an excellent choice to head the Department of Agriculture. "His executive experience as governor along with his unwavering support of biofuels reflects the President-elect's commitment to biodiesel, an issue he had highlighted as a priority during his campaign," Jobe said. "There is no question Secretary-designate Vilsack will face many challenges in the future, but I am confident in his ability to promote the economic, environmental and energy benefits of biofuels and ensure that policy at the USDA will benefit both agriculture producers as well as the biodiesel industry."

Current U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer also commended Vilsack's nomination. He will become the U.S.'s 30th Secretary of Agriculture.