President-elect Barack Obama on Wednesday named Tom Vilsack to his Cabinet as Agriculture Secretary along with Colorado Sen. Ken Salazar as Secretary of the Interior.
Salazar will head the department that oversees grazing and energy development on Bureau of Land Management land and manages the nation's parks and wildlife refuges as well as U.S. Fish and Wildlife. He is expected to balance protection of natural resources with use of the nation's energy potential. Salazar was raised on a farm in western Colorado and served as the state's Attorney General. He is currently Colorado's senior U.S. Senator.
Vilsack was Iowa's governor and was briefly a candidate for the Democratic nomination for president in early 2007. In Iowa, he was CEO of a state that is one of the nation's biggest providers of corn, soybeans, hogs and eggs. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's budget is about $100 billion, and some 110,000 employees work there. Vilsack will need to juggle his position on ethanol with trade issues, as well as tackle food safety and animal welfare debates.