Vilsack coming ‘home’ to Iowa once he leaves USDA

Source: By Christopher Doering,, Des Moines Register • Posted: Thursday, May 26, 2016

Former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack announces his withdrawal from the 2007 presidental campaign at his headquarters in Des Moines, Friday, Feb. 23, 2007. To his right is his wife Christie and to his left is their son Doug.


WASHINGTON — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Wednesday he and his wife will return home to Des Moines once he leaves the Obama administration.

“We’ve had a house in Des Moines for a while and we have three grandchildren, so it’s not rocket science to figure out we’re going back to Des Moines,” he told reporters following a speech before the Organic Trade Association in Washington. “I don’t know what we are going to do or when we are going to go back, but that’s home.”

Born in Pittsburgh, Vilsack lived most of his life in Iowa and moved up the political ranks from mayor of Mount Pleasant to two-term governor. He became secretary in January 2009. In addition to his home and family, Vilsack is a legal resident of Iowa and is registered to vote in the state.

There is no indication that Vilsack, 65, plans to leave before the end of the Obama administration, either to take another job or to campaign for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, whom he has endorsed for president. Vilsack is the last original member of President Barack Obama’s Cabinet.

In a December interview with The Des Moines Register, Vilsack said he had not thought about his legacy at the USDA.

“The true answer to that is I haven’t given that any thought. … That’s terrible,” he said in his office, surrounded by agricultural-themed posters and paintings and memorabilia from Pittsburgh sports teams. “One thing that I’ve heard people say back to me recently is that they really appreciate the fact that I’ve been a spokesperson for rural America and for agriculture, a strong spokesman, and reminding the rest of the country about the importance of this place.”

Vilsack has gained a reputation as a champion of farmers and ranchers in an administration that at times has been viewed as unfriendly toward them when it comes to topics such as ethanol and land rights. Iowa is the nation’s largest corn, soybean, egg, pork and ethanol producer.

Contact Christopher Doering at or reach him at Twitter: @cdoering