President-elect Barack Obama will nominate former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack (D) to be secretary of agriculture, Democratic sources say. Vilsack has been a big booster of ethanol, including corn-derived ethanol. “I think corn was a great way to start the conversation on renewable fuel,” he said in an interview with Grist last year. “But we can’t grow enough corn, and I think there are more efficient ways over time to produce ethanol from biomass with less stress on the environment, less use of water, less use of fertilizer.”

On the subject of organic and small-scale farming, Vilsack told Grist, “My hope is that we transform from the traditional farm policy to a food-and-farm policy that encourages greater diversity in agriculture, including incentives for food production and enhanced conservation practices. I also think we ought to be looking at changing the way we subsidize agriculture generally, from a commodity-based process to a conservation-based process, which would benefit organic farms as well.”