Vilsack quickly confirmed once Obama assumes helm

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Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack was quickly confirmed by the U.S. Senate following President Barack Obama's inauguration ceremony Tuesday, Jan. 20. Vilsack was among six of Obama's Cabinet confirmed by voice vote Tuesday. Other members confirmed who will have a direct impact on agricultural policy include Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Energy Secretary Steven Chu.

The National Corn Growers Association said Vilsack's quick and unanimous confirmation of Vilsack "will help ensure a speedy transition and smooth policy implementation at the USDA."

Now that Vilsack officially takes over the helm at USDA, his top priorities likely will include implementation of the farm bill, including potentially tighter payment limits, renewing children nutrition programs and continued work on promoting renewable fuels.

Senate Agriculture Chairman Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, said Vilsack "knows how to bring change that will help to strengthen and rebuild the farm and rural economy on a sound foundation." Harkin stated as governor of Iowa Vilsack was committed to better nutrition and providing food assistance to those who needed it.

"He built a strong record in promoting renewable energy, rural economic opportunity, and conservation. These qualifications will serve him well as he transitions into Agriculture Secretary. Tom Vilsack's confirmation signifies new leadership for the USDA, but also a new focus on the issues important to all Americans, including nutrition, conservation, energy and promoting the rural economy," Harkin said.

NCGA President Bob Dickey added NCGA is pleased the Senate moved so quickly to confirm Vilsack.

"We're pleased the Senate moved so quickly to confirm Tom Vilsack," said "The implementation of the 2008 farm bill is one of our top priorities for this year, and we're looking forward to working with the new administration on this and other issues."

During his eight years as governor of Iowa, from 1999-2007, Vilsack was active on a number of issues affecting corn growers. He chaired the Governors Ethanol Coalition, Governors Biotechnology Partnership, and the National Governors Association's Natural Resources Committee, which handles agriculture and energy policies. He also chaired the Democratic Governors Association in 2004.


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