Reaction to Vilsack as ag sec

A number of statements have been issued from a variety of office-holders and farm groups regarding former Governor Tom Vilsack's nomination to be the next Secretary of Agriculture.  I'll post several below.

Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer Statement:
Nomination of Tom Vilsack as the Next Secretary of Agriculture
WASHINGTON, DC – Dec 17, 2008 – U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer today commended President-Elect Barack Obama's nomination of former Iowa governor Tom Vilsack to be the 30th Secretary of Agriculture, citing the former governor's experience in agricultural issues and expressing confidence in Vilsack's ability to effectively continue USDA's success in expanding America's agricultural economy

"USDA plays an integral role in supporting our agricultural economy and working on behalf of America's farmers and ranchers. I am confident that Tom Vilsack's background and experience will help him continue the progress we have made here.

"With his opportunity to build on the accomplishments of USDA during the Bush Administration, Tom Vilsack would lead a department that has made great strides in strengthening our agricultural economy, expanding conservation, leading biofuels development, securing our food supply, improving nutrition, and increasing markets for American agriculture worldwide.

"I wish Governor Vilsack well and believe that he will succeed in continuing to move American agriculture forward." 

WASHINGTON – Senator Chuck Grassley today responded to news reports that former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack has been tapped as Secretary of Agriculture by President-Elect Barack Obama.

“This comes as a surprise since about three weeks ago Governor Vilsack stated that he was not in contention for the job, but it sure isn’t a surprise because of his qualifications. As Governor of Iowa he has a firsthand look at the role of agriculture in our global economy,” Grassley said. “I’m happy for him, happy for Iowa and this is welcome news for agriculture.” 


WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) today issued the following comment after President-Elect Obama announced that he had nominated Tom Vilsack for Agriculture Secretary.  Harkin is Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, the Committee that will hold nomination hearings.

"Tom Vilsack has a strong record in Iowa on building opportunities in renewable energy, conservation, food and nutrition, experience that will serve him well as Secretary of Agriculture.  With our economy in a downturn, Tom Vilsack knows how to bring change that will rebuild rural economies and keep them vibrant. As someone who has been a supporter of Tom Vilsack from the time he ran for Governor to the time he ran for President, I believe he will be a strong Secretary of Agriculture and I expect a swift confirmation by the Senate Agriculture Committee.”

Washington, DC – Rep. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa) released the following statement:

“My friend Tom Vilsack is a great choice for Secretary of Agriculture, and I’m glad to see that an Iowan will play a major role in President Obama’s administration.  Governor Vilsack knows agriculture and is a strong supporter of renewable energy and biofuels.  I can’t think of a more qualified and capable candidate for the job,” said Rep. Bruce Braley. 

Washington, DC – Congressman Dave Loebsack released the following statement on the appointment of former Governor Tom Vilsack as the next US Secretary of Agriculture.

“Governor Tom Vilsack is an outstanding choice as the next Secretary of Agriculture, I can think of no better person to serve our nation in this capacity.  Governor Vilsack is a proven leader and he possesses a deep understanding of the opportunities and challenges facing rural America.  As Secretary of Agriculture, Governor Vilsack will be able to draw on his experience and knowledge to protect family farms, support rural communities, and end our nation’s dependence on foreign oil by bolstering the production of bio-fuels and other renewable sources of energy.  Iowans are proud of Governor Vilsack, and excited by the opportunity to have one of our own serve as a cabinet secretary in the new Obama Administration.”

WASHINGTON, D.C.— Congressman Steve King made the following statement today on former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack’s appointment to Agriculture Secretary.

"I am pleased we will have another Agriculture Secretary from Iowa. Tom Vilsack and I served together in the Iowa Senate and later, as Governor, Tom Vilsack worked with me and our Iowa Congressional delegation.

“We have a long history of serving together. Iowa will benefit from this decision."

Congressman Boswell’s Statement on President-elect Barack Obama’s Nomination of Former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack for Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture

“I congratulate Tom Vilsack on his nomination for Secretary of Agriculture.  Tom is a thoughtful and forward-thinking leader. In Iowa, he pioneered much of our progress in wind and other renewable energies.  Tom’s also been a strong advocate of nutrition programs and rural development.  I'm pleased that Tom will play an active role in shaping the future of our great nation, and look forward to working with him.  Not since Henry A. Wallace have we had an Agriculture Secretary from Iowa.   His nomination is good for Iowa, and the country.”

Congressman Boswell serves on the House Agriculture Committee and currently chairs the Subcommittee on Livestock, Diary and Poultry.

Iowa Congressman Tom Latham made the following statement on former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack's nomination to Secretary of Agriculture by President-Elect Obama:

"Iowans should feel proud that our state will be represented in the president's cabinet. Tom Vilsack and I had a strong working relationship during his time as Iowa's governor, and I look forward to working with him again as we examine the Department of Agriculture's budget when he comes before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture."

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey made the following statement regarding the nomination of former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack for Secretary of Agriculture in the Obama Administration:

"Iowa is a national leader in agriculture, so it is very good news that an Iowan with a deep understanding of the issues facing farmers, renewable fuels and our rural communities will be leading the U.S. Department of agriculture at this challenging time. I congratulate Governor Vilsack look forward to working with him in his new role."

JOHNSTON, Iowa – Dec. 17, 2008 –  State corn grower leadership applauded today’s announcement of former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack as President-elect Barack Obama’s pick to head the U.S. Department of Agriculture. 

“Governor Vilsack established an outstanding record here in Iowa as a capable, pragmatic leader who understood the importance of agriculture,” said Gary Edwards, president of the Iowa Corn Growers Association (ICGA).

“We look forward to working with him on the national level as we did on the state level.”
Edwards cited especially Vilsack’s recognized leadership on issues like renewable fuels, biotechnology, and rural economic development as important for Iowa and strengths for the USDA secretary.

 “In these volatile times with so many challenges facing our nation and our industry, having a strong, knowledgeable leader like Governor Vilsack at the head of USDA is critically important to Iowa’s growers,” Edwards said. 

The Vilsack announcement came during a quarterly ICGA board of directors meeting, and state leaders took the opportunity to send him a congratulatory letter signed by 34 growers representing the state’s nine crop reporting districts.

Washington, D.C. – Democratic Governors Association (DGA) Chair Gov. Brian Schweitzer (Mont.) today congratulated former DGA Chair Gov. Tom Vilsack (Iowa) on being named to serve as Secretary of Agriculture in President-elect Barack Obama’s administration. 

“Tom Vilsack is an excellent choice for the next Secretary of Agriculture,” Gov. Schweitzer said. “He was an outstanding Governor dedicated to improving the quality of life for Iowans.  Governor Vilsack worked to strengthen Iowa’s economy and create high-paying jobs, expertise that will serve the next administration well during these difficult economic times.  He is a champion for America’s farmers, an authority on natural resources, and thoroughly experienced in agricultural issues.  We are extremely pleased that Governor Vilsack is embarking upon his next chapter of service to the American people.” 

Gov. Vilsack served as Iowa’s Governor from 1999 to 2007 and as DGA Chair in 2004. 

Vilsack has Opportunity to Elevate Agriculture’s Importance to Nation, says Iowa Farm Bureau

WEST DES MOINES, IOWA – Dec. 17, 2008 – Iowa’s largest general farm organization, the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF), looks forward to working with an Iowa Cabinet member in the new Administration.  Former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack’s appointment as U.S. Secretary of Ag provides an opportunity to spotlight issues important to Iowa and our nation’s food and fuel production.

“Former Gov. Vilsack is assuming the Secretary of Ag position at a critical time in our nation’s history,” said IFBF President Craig Lang.  “At the same time that our global population is reaching historic levels, American farmers are facing increased challenges to provide more food while consumers are demanding more options.  In order to meet these needs, farmers need strong leadership in implementing the new Farm Bill, a skilled negotiator at assisting with trade and a strategic thinker to help balance our renewable energy needs with increased food production.  American agriculture is critical to meeting those new demands and we look forward to working with him to help him combine what we know with what we grow.”

Iowa leads the nation in ethanol, hog, corn, soybean and egg production.

Cattle Producers Pleased with Obama’s Picks for Agriculture, Interior Secretaries

Billings, Mont. – R-CALF USA is pleased with President-elect Barack Obama’s choice of former Iowa governor Tom Vilsack to be the nominee for Secretary of Agriculture and equally pleased with the appointment of Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo., as the nominee to head the U.S. Department of Interior.
“We look forward to working with Mr. Vilsack and continuing our relationship with Senator Salazar and expect that they both will represent the interests of independent U.S. cattle producers, as well as U.S. beef consumers, and that they will also recognize those interests are quite separate from the interests of the multinational packers, processors and retailers that are also within the beef supply chain,” said R-CALF USA President/Region VI Director Max Thornsberry, a Missouri veterinarian who also chairs the group’s animal health committee.

“We were especially pleased during today’s news conference to announce this pair of nominees that President-elect Obama stated in very clear terms, ‘…it means ensuring that the policies being shaped…are designed to serve not big agribusiness or Washington influence peddlers, but family farmers and the American people…,’” Thornsberry added.

The U.S. cattle industry – which exists in all 50 states and is the largest segment of American agriculture – generates about $50 billion annually into the U.S. economy. It also is the cornerstone of Rural America, and the success of the U.S. cattle industry is important both to those rural communities and to the overall economic strength of the United States.

“Over the last decade, R-CALF USA members have successfully elevated a number of key cattle industry issues to the highest levels of Congress, and more and more members of Congress from all parties are stepping up to support our positions,” Thornsberry said. “The changes we seek are straightforward and need to be made immediately to ensure that the U.S. cattle industry, which helped build our country’s economy in the first place, is positioned to help rebuild our national economy now.”

R-CALF USA seeks to:

1) restore the competition lost to our industry caused by years of neglect of our antitrust laws and laws to prevent anti-competitive practices;

2) reverse the failure to update laws to reflect the changed structure of our industry;

3) reverse the failure to incorporate the unique sensitivities of our industry in trade negotiations;

4) halt the failure to differentiate domestic products from imported products;

5) stop the failure to adequately protect our industry from the introduction of foreign animal diseases;

6) reverse the general failure of the government to protect the rights and property of independent U.S. cattle producers.

“R-CALF USA members look forward to working with both Vilsack and Salazar to swiftly implement the reforms needed to restore competition and opportunities for U.S. cattle farmers and ranchers in the United States, knowing that this will help to generate renewed economic activity on main streets all across America,” Thornsberry concluded.

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About O.Kay Henderson

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