For the first time ever, I would wager, an incoming president’s USDA pick has emerged from the back news pages and into the national conversation.
On the radio, three shows I know of devoted significant time to the topic. NPR’s Morning Edition interviewed Michael Pollan this morning; The Takeaway featured New York State farmer Ben Shute and the Environmental Working Group’s Sandra Schubert on the topic; and Democracy Now! interviewed Brian Moore of the National Audubon Society and Ronnie Cummins of the Organic Consumers Association.
Meanwhile, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristoff opined in today’s column, declaring the choice of Vilsack "unfortunate," deploring his "longstanding ties to agribusiness interests," and calling him Obama’s "weakest selection so far."
I find this extremely encouraging. Typically, USDA chiefs make and interpret policy in complete obscurity. Vilsack finds himself in the limelight.