Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced his intention to remain in the administration for President Obama’s second term.  Matt Paul, USDA’s communications director, said this week that the president asked Vilsack to stay on and Vilsack accepted.  He will face a difficult agenda dealing with the effects of the worst drought in decades, a Congress that has yet been able to pass a new five-year farm bill, and in a cost-cutting environment.

“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.  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,” Vilsack he said in a statement this week.

Vilsack was elected as governor of Iowa in 1998, the first Democrat to win the office in 32 years.  He was re-elected in 2002.  He made a brief bid for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination.  His wife, Christie Vilsack, unsuccessfully ran for the seat in the U.S. House of Representatives held by Republican Steve King of Iowa in last year’s campaigns.  Should Vilsack serve for the full second term until 2017, he will be the first person to lead USDA for two terms since Orville Freeman led the agency under Presidents  Kennedy and Johnson in the 1960s.