Doing little to slough the stereotype that Midwestern governors are automatically good at farming, Barack Obama has announced the next nominee to his presidential inner circle: former Iowa governor and presidential candidate Tom Vilsack as agriculture secretary.

The New York Times:

President-elect Barack Obama has selected former Gov. Tom Vilsack of Iowa to serve as his agriculture secretary, according to officials familiar with the decision, and will make the announcement on Wednesday as he works to round out his remaining cabinet nominations.

Mr. Vilsack, who briefly sought the Democratic presidential nomination in the 2008 race after serving two terms as governor, is a strong proponent of renewable energy and developing the nation’s alternative fuel industry. He will be joined at a news conference here by Senator Ken Salazar, Democrat of Colorado, who will be nominated as interior secretary.

Mr. Vilsack’s nomination comes at a time of extraordinary tumult for the American agricultural industry, which not only has been battered by the recession, but is also increasingly entangled in the contentious debate over energy policy. The Agriculture Department is also contending with a sharp increase in the demand for food assistance in the wake of the economic turmoil.

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