Vilsack to remain atop USDA for Obama’s 2nd term

Source: Amanda Peterka, E&E reporter • Posted: Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will remain on board for President Obama’s second term, Department of Agriculture and White House officials confirmed today.

Vilsack, a former governor of Iowa, has served as the head of USDA since Obama tapped him at the beginning of his first term. It was widely expected that he would remain in the position for Obama’s second term.

As secretary of Agriculture, Vilsack has been a vocal defender of the ethanol industry and his department’s efforts to expand the production of advanced biofuels. In recent months, he has been critical of House Republican leadership for not passing a five-year farm bill, which funds both energy and conservation programs, as well as commodity subsidies and nutrition programs.

In recent speeches, Vilsack has bemoaned what he calls the declining relevance of rural America and has vowed to push to increase its importance in national debates.

He is scheduled to give a keynote speech this afternoon at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual conference in Nashville, Tenn.

Vilsack was governor of the Hawkeye State from the late 1990s to 2007. He briefly ran for president but dropped out of the race in the beginning of 2007, first endorsing now-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, then backing Obama when the president became the Democratic candidate.

The White House has yet to formally announce Vilsack’s second term as secretary of Agriculture, but an official announcement is expected soon.