Vilsack said to head USDA for second term
Monday, January 14, 2013 3:07 PM
Former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack will stay on as U.S. agriculture secretary during President Barack Obama's second term, Bloomberg reported, quoting anonymous sources familiar with the matter.
If Vilsack were to serve until 2017, he would be the first person to head the Department of Agriculture for two terms since Orville Freeman, who led the agency under presidents John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson in the 1960s.
Agriculture "hasn't been an area the president has had to worry about a lot in the past few years" thanks to farm-sector prosperity, Mark McMinimy, an analyst at Guggenheim Washington Research Group told Bloomberg. Vilsack "has done enough to earn a second term," he said.
The Department of Agriculture has a $150 billion-budget, making it the third largest cabinet agency in spending after the Departments of Defense and Health and Human Services.
Food stamps for needy families make up the majority of spending, taking up about half of the department's budget. The remainder is taken up by other nutrition programs and subsidies for farmers, including crop insurance.
Vilsack was elected as Iowa's governor in 1998 and was re-elected in 2002. He was the first Democrat to win the office in 32 years.