From an AP report:

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack’s income included $300,000 from the law and lobbying firm Dorsey and Whitney in Des Moines, Iowa; $100,000 consulting for MidAmerican Energy; $63,000 from Iowa State University; and $55,000 from other sources, including honoraria, a fellowship, a director’s fee and consulting. In addition, he and his wife have $500,000 to $1 million in farmland that yielded $15,000 to $50,000 in rent, plus $7,552 from a U.S. Agriculture Department Conservation Reserve Program.

I’ve mentioned before that Vilsack recently stepped down from a partner role at Dorsey & Whitney, a corporate law firm that has represented Cargill, ConAgra, and other agribiz giants.

Some folks want to make a big deal about Vilsack making $7,552 from the Conservation Reserve Program. Not me. I’d rather see him idle land under CRP than drench it with agrichemicals to grow industrial corn.

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The $63,000 from Iowa State University must be a reference to his role at that institution’s Biosafety Institute for Genetically Modified Agricultural Products, where until recently he sat on the advisory board with representatives of Monsanto, Dupont’s Pioneer Hi-Bred, and the World Bank. But I already knew about that.

What gets me is the $100K in consulting for MidAmerican Energy. MidAmerican Energy Holdings describes itself like this:

MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company is a global leader in the production of energy from diversified fuel sources including geothermal, natural gas, hydroelectric, nuclear, coal and wind. MidAmerican also leads in the supply and distribution of energy in the U.S. and U.K. consumer markets, with approximately 6.9 million electricity and gas customers.

Wow — that’s kind of big. As for MidAmerican Energy, the company’s Des Moines-based Midwestern subsidiary:

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MidAmerican Energy Company is the largest utility in Iowa and is strategically located in the middle of several major markets in the Midwest. We provide service to more than 720,000 electric customers and more than 702,000 natural gas customers in a 10,600 square-mile area from Sioux Falls, S.D. to the Quad Cities area of Iowa and Illinois.

And the generation mix of its electricity?

MidAmerican has more than 6,700 megawatts of generating capability: approximately 55 percent fueled by coal; 22 percent natural gas and oil; 10 percent nuclear; and 13 percent wind, hydroelectric and biomass.

I know we’re all supposed to rally around Vilsack and nudge him to support sustainable-ag policies. But I remain uneasy about his ties to agribiz and and old-line energy firms.

However, it should be noted that while this recent Washington Times piece documents some pretty hot-and-heavy footsie between Vilsack and MidAmerican, starting when the latter was Iowa’s governor, it does portray him as pushing the company in the direction of wind power. That’s something. Crony capitalism we can believe in?

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