The Senate Ag Committee held its formal hearing Wednesday, receiving testimony from former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack who has been selected by President-elect Barack Obama to be his Secretary of Agriculture. The hearing was viewed as being only a formality with a full Senate vote expected on Inauguration Day next Tuesday.
Vilsack drew praise from both sides of the aisle and following the hearing Senate Ag Committee Chairman Tom Harking, D-Iowa, said he expected the committee to unanimously approve Vilsack for ag secretary.
There has been some concern that both Vilsack and Harkin may have Iowa-specific interests, and Senate Ag Committee Ranking Member Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., urged Vilsack to closely monitor the production sector and ensure any legislative priorities treat all areas of the country fairly so that they may enjoy broad congressional support. Vilsack said farmers across the country share concerns over the lack of control over input costs, the weather and other production factors and that all farmers deserved "multiple opportunities" to benefit from a variety of USDA programs, including subsidies, conservation and trade programs.