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Grist Magazine Credits OCA with Killing the Vilsack Nomination: Peterson and Herseth Sandlin Remain Possibilities

  • Obama's USDA chief: And then there were two?
    Vilsack out; Peterson and Herseth Sandlin square off
    By Tom Philpott
    Grist Magazine, Nov 24, 2008
    Straight to the Source

Until very recently, speculation around who would take the top spot at Obama's USDA centered on former Iowa governor Tom Vilsack, a champion of both genetically modified seed technology and farm-subsidy reform.

But now Vilsack's out of the running, the Des Moines Registerreports. Evidently, a petition from the Organic Consumers Association helped sink his prospects.

What now? According to The Hill, two serious candidates remain, both farm-state legislators: Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), chairman of the House Ag committee, and Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-S.D.).

Peterson is widely reviled in sustainable-ag circles for his staunch defense of the federal farm subsidy program during the 2007-'08 farm bill debate. As he revealed in this comment to the Financial Times last year, Peterson sees little value in alternatives to chemical-intensive, monocrop ag:

For whatever reason, people are willing to pay two or three times as much for something that says "organic" or "local." Far be it from me to understand what that's about, but that's reality. And if people are dumb enough to pay that much then hallelujah.

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