USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced Monday he will return in his position for President Barack Obama's second term.
The 62-year-old Democrat previously served as an Iowa state senator, as the mayor of Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, and two terms as Iowa Governor. He is the 30th Secretary of Agriculture.
"President Obama and I share a deep appreciation for rural America and its unlimited potential in the years ahead to feed a growing world population, revolutionize America's energy, further protect our natural resources and create more jobs here at home," Vilsack said in a statement late Monday. "We will continue to urge Congress to pass a Food, Farm and Jobs Bill that will help us continue USDA's wide range of efforts to support this work. As we look ahead to a promising future in our small towns and rural communities, I am pleased to continue working alongside President Obama to grow more opportunity in rural America."
Vilsack let on to his continuing appointment as Secretary during a speech to attendees of the American Farm Bureau Federation annual meeting in Nashville, Tenn., on Monday.
"At USDA, my goal in the coming years is to work with our partners to promote rural investment through research and collaboration," he said. "We must create new agricultural products that provide a renewed opportunity for the next generation of American farmers."
During the speech, Vilsack again announced his support for many of the hot-button issues he has tackled as Secretary.
"We are particularly focused on developing new foreign and domestic markets and promoting conservation and recreation in our rural communities. We must also continue to strengthen the biobased economy," he said.
As USDA Secretary, Vilsack has led a nationwide response to drought conditions in 2012, implemented President Obama's jobs plan, and focused on rebuilding the economy. He also served as chair of the first-ever White House Rural Council, which was formed to coordinate opportunities for dialogue between the administration and rural America.
Vilsack has also helped to pass the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act and facilitated a USDA partnership with First Lady Michelle Obama's "Let's Move" program, an effort to curb childhood obesity.
Additionally, Vilsack has led the charge in passing new food safety standards, has supported bioenergy research and has taken steps toward conservation improvement.
Now, Vilsack continues his crusade for a five-year Food, Farm and Jobs Bill, an effort that he again announced support for last week.
"At the beginning of this New Year, we at USDA are redoubling our efforts to achieve an adequate, defensible safety net for producers, more economic opportunity through the biobased economy, safe and nutritious food for Americans, robust efforts to carry out research and greater conservation of our natural resources," Vilsack wrote in a USDA blog post dated Jan. 11. "One very important part of a Food, Farm and Jobs Bill is to provide a safety net for America's producers, who face a great deal of uncertainty in their work – both from Mother Nature and market prices."
Should he remain as secretary until 2017, Vilsack will become the first ag secretary to serve two terms since Orville Freeman, who served from 1961-1969.