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Former Iowa Governor Vilsack Tapped To Lead USDA Once Again

Evan Vucci
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March 5, 2013, before the House Agricultural Committee hearing to review the state of the rural economy.

Former Iowa governor Tom Vilsack may once again serve as agriculture secretary. President-elect Joe Biden tapped Vilsack, who served in this role for eight years under President Obama, on Thursday.

If Vilsack is confirmed for the role, he will become the second-longest-serving agriculture secretary in U.S. history.

Some Iowans, including Sen. Chuck Grassley, have applauded Vilsack’s nomination and experience in the office. Others, including many farmers of color, have raised concerns over the possible appointment citing Vilsack’s record on civil rights and lack of practical farming experience.

On this episode of River to River, host Ben Kieffer is joined by Iowa Public Radio agriculture reporter Amy Mayer for a look at this important nomination. Also in the hour, COVID-19 vaccination news; a look at the economic impact of a recently opened Amazon fulfillment center in Bondurant; and an update on Iowa’s Dan Gable, who received a Presidential Medal of Freedom at the White House earlier this week.


  • Natalie Krebs, Iowa Public Radio health reporter
  • Dave Swenson, research scientist in the department of economics at Iowa State University
  • Grant Gerlock, Iowa Public Radio central Iowa reporter
  • Amy Mayer, Iowa Public Radio agriculture reporter
  • Mike Hlas, sports columnist with The Gazette
  • Tony Dehner, Iowa Public Radio Studio One host


Ben Kieffer is the host of IPR's River to River
Katelyn Harrop is a producer for IPR's River to River and Talk of Iowa