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Kolesar Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 02:55 PM
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Vilsack not the right choice for ag secretary
Posted by Jim Goodman January 20, 2009

Jim Goodman is a dairy farmer from Wonewoc, Wis., and a W.K. Kellogg Food and Society Policy Fellow. He wrote this for Progressive Media Project, a source of liberal commentary on domestic and international issues; it is affiliated with the Progressive magazine. (McClatchy-Tribune)

The Senate should put the brakes on Tom Vilsack as secretary of agriculture.

Wednesday's confirmation hearing for Obama's nominee was a lovefest. But it shouldn't have been.

More than 60,000 supporters of organic farming have sent e-mails opposing Vilsack's nomination. With a world food crisis, food safety problems and a growing demand for local and organic food, the time was right for a real change in national food policy.

Obama could have picked someone who was knowledgeable about organic farming and local and regional food systems. Someone who knew the difference between growing food and growing commodity crops. Someone who felt more at ease mending a fence or thinning carrots than sitting in a corporate boardroom.

Instead, he chose Vilsack, the former governor of Iowa, darling of the biotech industry. In fact, in 2001, the Biotechnology Industry Organization named him governor of the year.

Vilsack happily signed the 2005 seed pre-emption law in Iowa, which prohibits local governments from regulating genetically engineered seeds.

Biogenetic farming is incompatible with organic farming. Genetically modified pollen drifts for miles and contaminates both organic and non-genetically modified conventional crops. The huge companies that dominate genetically modified farming push out small organic farmers and local food producers.

Vilsack also is the favorite of large corporations that are exploiting the demand for organics at the expense of small farmers -- corporations like Whole Foods and Stonyfield.

And he has been a champion of biofuels, one of the most wasteful uses of our farmland imaginable.

I don't doubt Tom Vilsack is a nice guy who probably did a lot for Iowa agriculture. I know he did a lot for agribusiness, the chemical companies, biotechnology and large-scale farming. Apparently, his vision of better agriculture is bigger, more intensive agriculture.
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stillcool Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 03:01 PM
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1. Has he been confirmed yet?
I know I contacted my representatives about his confirmation, but I haven't followed up.
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hlthe2b Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 03:15 PM
Response to Reply #1
3. Too late... he got confirmed yesterday.
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stillcool Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 03:22 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. I thought so...I seem to remember..
there being some petitions going around, and other requests to contact government officials about his nomination. Most of these appointments I've been pretty ignorant about. In some cases because I was ignorant of who the individuals are, but also because I didn't know how to compare their previous actions in comparison to the position they were appointed to. This was one case where I recognized a clear line between past actions and future policy.
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T Wolf Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 03:09 PM
Response to Original message
2. If he is the President's choice, shouldn't he be given a chance? Just askin'?
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acmavm Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-22-09 05:38 AM
Response to Reply #2
6. No. Check up on the connections between Visack and Monsanto.
This guy is the farming community's worst enemy.
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Venceremos Donating Member (488 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 03:38 PM
Response to Original message
5. What I know about Vilsack
I was very well acquainted with an Iowa lawyer for a decade. She's a right wing member of the Heritage Foundation, she handled cases for a conservative legal foundation that's trying to put prayer back in schools, etc.

When Vilsack was governor of Iowa he appointed her as a state district court judge - in Iowa that's one step below the appellate court. There was one other candidate for the district court position, a female Democrat magistrate (lower court) judge with much more experience, a squeaky clean record, etc.

Vilsack never explained why he appointed the right wing lawyer instead of the more experienced judge.
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