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December 17, 2008   Email to Friend 

Darryal Ray
(334) 613-4187
December 17, 2008

Former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Bob Stallman, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, praised President-elect Barack Obama's selection Wednesday of former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack as secretary of agriculture and Sen. Ken Salazar's selection as secretary of the interior.

"Both men have demonstrated experienced, steady judgment when it comes to working on agriculture-related issues," Stallman said in a statement issued by the AFBF. "During his tenure as Iowa's governor, one of the nation's top agriculture-producing states, Gov. Vilsack was an ardent supporter of furthering the use of renewable fuels such as ethanol, biodiesel and wind, as well as an advocate for biotechnology."

"He has been a strong proponent of international trade and expanding our export markets," Stallman added. "His understanding and experience with many of the pressing issues facing agriculture today will serve him well in his new position."

In naming the 58-year-old Vilsack, Obama once again tapped a former rival in the governor who briefly sought the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination after serving two terms as governor. Vilsack, who was Iowa's governor from 1998 to 2006, is now the fourth one-time rival on Obama's team, joining Vice President-elect Joe Biden, Commerce Secretary Bill Richardson and, of course, Sen. Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State. After dropping out of the race, Vilsack backed Clinton but supported Obama in the general election.

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) said Vilsack's confirmation should go smoothly in January. Vilsack, a strong proponent of renewable energy and developing the nation's alternative fuel industry, will be the fifth secretary of agriculture from Iowa, and the first since 1940 when Henry Wallace served as USDA chief in the Roosevelt administration. This will also be the first time that both the Senate Agriculture Committee chairman and USDA secretary are Iowans.

Salazar, a fifth-generation Coloradan whose family has ranched and farm on the same land in the San Luis Valley for more than a century, serves on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee and has been a strong proponent of expanding the development of renewable fuels. He is also a recipient of the AFBF's Friend of Farm Bureau Award for his many pro-agriculture efforts.

"Sen. Salazar, is also uniquely qualified and experienced to serve as Secretary of the Interior," said Stallman. "His life-long experience as a farmer will serve him well in addressing the concerns of agriculture. We look forward to working with both Gov. Vilsack and Sen. Salazar, as well as their respected agencies to carry-out the programs and policies that will benefit America's farmers and ranchers and rural America."

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