Vilsack named new ag secretary

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Media reports indicate that former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack will be named President-elect Barack Obama's new Secretary of Agriculture. The announcement comes as a surprise to many, including Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, after Vilsack said three weeks ago that he was not in contention for the job.

Grassley said as governor Vilsack "had a firsthand look at the role of agriculture in our global economy" and the news is welcome news for agriculture.

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Tom Harkin and the other Iowa senator said Vilsack, "knows production agriculture and he knows the changes we need to ensure its profitability and future, including for young and beginning farmers and ranchers. Tom Vilsack has the experience, dedication and forward-looking thinking critically needed to build a better future for all Americans in food, agriculture, conservation, and the economic vitality of rural communities.  With these qualifications and his strong Iowa roots, I hope he is indeed nominated for this position."

National Farmers Union president Tom Buis, another name commonly mentioned for the post, called Vilsack a "great choice" and said Vilsack "has an understanding of the challenges and opportunities that exist in rural America."

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