Tom Vilsack as US Ag Secretary?

A few media outlets are publishing lists of folks who may wind up in an Obama Administration.  Former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack is mentioned by The Wall Street Journal and Time magazine as in consideration for U.S. Secretary of Agriculture.

Now, you Iowans, quit laughing.  Vilsack's a smart guy and while he never farmed, he can tell the difference between a soybean plant and a corn stalk.  I'm not sure ag policy is his preferred cup of tea, though.  He was heavily involved in energy-related issues during his tenure as governor, so Secretary of Energy seems a more likely scenario to Iowa political observers.  While he was governor Vilsack signed into law a bill which made Iowa a much more attractive place to build power plants, for example, and — today — Vilsack probably knows more about the intricacies of the nation's power grid than about the WTO's Doha negotiations and their impact on American agriculture. 

Vilsack, a practicing lawyer, is on MidAmerican Energy's board of directors and tomorrow (Thursday, November 6) the president of MidAmerican Energy will be at Harvard — at Vilsack's invitation.  Vilsack is a "fellow" at Harvard's Kennedy School this semester and he's invited MidAmerican's Greg Abel to talk about "the need for a comprehensive energy policy that smartly addresses climate change."  The Harvard announcement is here.

Vilsack, as you may recall, ran for president, dropped out in February, 2007, then endorsed Hillary Clinton's bid for the White House.  When it became clear Obama had secured the delegates necessary to win the nomination in June of 2008, Vilsack was among the first Clintonites to publicly endorse Obama.  In the past few months, Vilsack has often appeared in the media to make the case for Obama's candidacy.  (It seemed like Vilsackwas on FOX News almost once a week this summer and fall, engaging in verbal banter with Neil Cavuto.)  Vilsack was deployed by the Obama campaign in Iowa, too. 

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.


  1. * Vilsack’s support of pharmaceutical crops, especially pharmaceutical corn:
    * The biggest biotechnology industry group, the Biotechnology Industry
    Organization, named Vilsack Governor of the Year. He was also the founder
    and former chair of the Governor’s Biotechnology Partnership.
    * When Vilsack created the Iowa Values Fund, his first poster child of
    economic development potential was Trans Ova and their pursuit of cloning
    dairy cows.
    * Vilsack was the origin of the seed pre-emption bill in 2005, which many
    people here in Iowa fought because it took away local government’s possibility of
    ever having a regulation on seeds- where GE would be grown, having GE-free
    buffers, banning pharma corn locally, etc. Representative Sandy Greiner, the Republican sponsor
    of the bill, bragged on the House Floor that Vilsack put her up to it
    right after his state of the state address.
    * Vilsack has a glowing reputation as being a schill for agribusiness
    biotech giants like Monsanto. Sustainable ag advocated across the country
    were spreading the word of Vilsack’s history as he was attempting to
    appeal to voters in his presidential bid. An activist from the west coast even made this youtube
    animation about Vilsack
    The airplane in this animation is a referral to the controversy that
    Vilsack often traveled in Monsanto’s jet.