Organic Consumers Association against Vilsack for Ag Secretary

The Organic Consumers Association doesn’t hold back in this piece: Six Reasons Why Obama Appointing Monsanto’s Buddy, Former Iowa Governor Vilsack, for USDA Head is a Terrible Idea.

Click through to read the whole case against Vilsack. Among other things, they don’t like his advocacy of genetically-engineered crops for food or pharmaceuticals, his tendency to travel in Monsanto’s jet, and his support of biofuels.

I can’t recall anything Vilsack did as governor to address pollution from conventional farming or to promote sustainable agriculture. Then again, I was out of the state for most of his first term. If anyone wants to make the case for Vilsack as ag secretary in the comments, have at it.

I would much rather see Vilsack in a different post, such as secretary of education. He is very smart, understands policy and works hard, so he would be an asset to the cabinet–just not as agriculture secretary, in my opinion.

On a related note, if you care about food policy and sustainable agriculture, you should bookmark the community blog La Vida Locavore, featuring Jill Richardson (known to Daily Kos readers as OrangeClouds115) and Asinus Asinum Fricat, among others.

Jill’s recent posts indicate that Obama will likely improve food safety and may move us in the right direction in several other agricultural policy areas.

  • Vilsack is good for Rural America

    Former Governor Tom Vilsack has been a visionary for Rural America and a friend to those who live and work in rural communities. A recent article in the Sioux Falls Argus Leader outlines Gov. Vilsack’s leadership on Energy Independence and Food Security for our country. He was the first Presidential Candidate who recognized the threads that connect many of the United States’ pressing problems: stagnant economy, our world standing, the fight against terrorism, and real rural development.

    As a Governor, he worked hard on organic labeling efforts and created regulations that would protect organic crops from cross pollination. He worked closely with the organic food industry. The Values Fund was instrumental in helping the bio-fuels industry, which has created a more prosperous Iowa. He established the Food Policy Council to promote locally grown foods.  He worked to make fresh fruits and vegetables from Farmer’s Markets available to senior citizens as well as to women and children under the WIC program.

    His was the first presidential campaign that bought carbon credits to offset emission. I have no idea what the Monsanto plane thing is about.

    Governor Vilsack will make an excellent Secretary Of Agriculture we can all be proud of.  He will promote meaningful rural development that will result in bringing good paying jobs to rural America. He will be a major advocate and a strong voice to move us from our oil addiction and help us become a country that not only feeds the world but fuels it, too.

    • I don't entirely agree

      but thank you for sharing that perspective. Helping increase access to farmers’ markets was a very good thing, obviously.

      I remember when the Republican-controlled legislature cut state funding for the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at ISU by 85 percent. I do not recall Governor Vilsack or Secretary of Agriculture Judge objecting to that. That was a crazy, short-sighted move. Sustainable agriculture keeps more families on the farm.

      There is a lot of debate about whether Iowa taxpayers got good value for the money that went into the Values Fund. You may have read about Wells Dairy, which took the money but didn’t create the promised jobs.

      I think Vilsack’s energetic promotion of genetically-modified crops is what most disturbs the Organic Consumers Association. Vilsack did not support measures like buffer strips and even wanted to grow pharmacrops in Iowa right next to fields growing food. Having lived in Europe during the mad cow disease scare, I would be concerned about the rest of the world rejecting American grain that could not be guaranteed to be uncontaminated by pharmacrops. That would do great harm to our farm economy.

      I believe that his use of the Monsanto plane refers to when Vilsack was governor, not his presidential campaign travel.

      I would prefer to see Tom Vilsack in a different cabinet position.

    • Couldn't disagree more

      Rob,  I’m sorry,  but I couldn’t disagree with you more.  Tom Vilsack ran roughshod over Iowa’s family farmers for his entire tenure.  His use of taxpayer dollars to promote boondoggles like pharma crops was not only fiscally irresponsible, but potentially environmentally catastrophic.  He certainly did not do anything for organic farmers –  in fact,  he cut funds to ISU’s sustainable farming program and the state apiary department. He also did nothing to support renewable energy until his friends at MidAmerican Energy stood to make a killing –  then he personally championed a bill that has all but shut out farmer-owned wind projects.

      Tom Vilsack is not a farmer, has no connections to rural culture or to agriculture.  IMHO he is only being considered because he is a good dem footsoldier, and from Iowa. His appointment would indicate to me that the old patronage system is already overtaking “change”.  

  • How does Vilsack compare?

    These are reportedly the other contenders:


    Tom Buis, president of National Farmers Union. About Buis

    Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., chairman of House Agriculture Committee.  About Peterson.

    I think you can’t look at this potential appointment in a vacuum.  

    Personally, I would be more alarmed if a social conservative like Hagel went to the State Department, where he could sabotage family planning around the world.  Or if another Repub is the Defense Secretary, because it reinforces the notion that Dems are wimpy and they don’t do national security, except for Holy Joe.

    • that is a valid point

      Probably no one under serious consideration by Obama would be inclined to support more sustainable agriculture, study the impact of pesticides on honeybees, etc.

      Vilsack is highly competent and in that sense might be better than other alternatives.

      If Collin Peterson goes into the cabinet, we probably would lose hise House seat in a special election.

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