I have curiously awaited for Obama's pick for Secretary of Agriculture, and I must say I am disappointed- below is a brief bio from WIKIPEDIA, so maybe its not 100 % true, but Vilsack doesn't seem to have the agenda to move farm policy to the local level, to follow the locavore and small farm strides of the past few years in a systemic way.
"On December 17, 2008, President-elect Barack Obama announced his choice of Vilsack as the nominee to be the next U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. Vilsack has governed a farm state as did the previous two Secretaries of Agriculture, Senator-elect Mike Johanns (2005-2007) and Ed Schafer (2007-present). The Washington Post called Vilsack a "shoo-in" for the job.
Opposition to a Vilsack appointment has come from the Organic Consumers Association, which outlined in a November 2008 report several reasons why it believes Vilsack would be a poor choice for the position, particularly as energy and environmental reforms were a key point of the Obama campaign. Among those reasons the report cites: Vilsack has repeatedly demonstrated a preference for large industrial farms and genetically modified crops; as Iowa state governor, he originated the seed pre-emption bill in 2005, effectively blocking local communities from regulating where genetically engineered crops would be grown; additionally, Vilsack was the founder and former chair of the Governor's Biotechnology Partnership, and was named Governor of the Year by the Biotechnology Industry Organization, an industry lobbying group. Vilsack has also been known to travel in the Monsanto jet."
According to the Organic Consumers Association, Here are "Six Reasons Why Obama Appointing Monsanto's Buddy, Former Iowa Governor Vilsack, for USDA Head Would be a Terrible Idea"
Nov. 12, 2008
* Former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack's support of genetically engineered 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.
*Vilsack is an ardent support of corn and soy based biofuels, which use as much or more fossil energy to produce them as they generate, while driving up world food prices and literally starving the poor.