Former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack will go before the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee tomorrow morning. The Democrat faces a confirmation hearing to become the next Secretary of Agriculture.
Iowa Senator Tom Harkin is chair of the committee and says Vilsack will face some major challenges when he takes office – mostly likely sometime next week. "His first big challenge is hiring his people, getting the deputies in and the under-secretaries. That’s always a hurdle you have to get over," Harkin said.
Once his staff is in place, Vilsack will be charged with helping write rules for a host of programs that are part of the 2008 Farm Bill. In prepared remarks that he’ll deliver tomorrow before the committee, Vilsack says he hopes to develop policies to guarantee that rural communities grow and prosper.
Harkin says the proposed economic stimulus plan could be one of Vilsack’s first orders of business. "We’re going to have some stuff in the stimulus package that will go out to rural America and I suspect a lot of it will go through the Department of Agriculture," Harkin said. Vilsack does not provide any policy specifics in his prepared statement, but is promising to "aggressively address" global climate change and energy independence.