Vilsack is a capable administrator with the right partisan credentials.
But he only moved to the top of the list of Agriculture secretary prospects because he is a prominent Democrat who comes from what Washington insiders know as a “farm state.” As governor of Iowa, Vilsack had to engage with farm issues. But that embrace was anything but inspired. Family farm activists, fair-trade campaigners and advocates for organic foods were regularly disappointed by the stands he took. The Organic Consumers Association was blunt, declaring: “Vilsack has a glowing reputation as being a schill for agribusiness biotech giants like Monsanto.”
The Department of Agriculture is, to be sure, misnamed. Ever since Abraham Lincoln evolved what had been a subdivision of the Patent Office and then a section of the Department of the Interior into an independent federal agency that the 16th president referred to as “the people’s department,” the department has been about much more than just farming. And that is only more so today, as the agency deals with everything from food safety and the spread of organic farming to buy-local food initiatives, rural development, food and nutrition programs in urban areas, and overseas aid.
Hope to join the power elites.
Change in his pocket.