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S.Dak. Farm Group Gives Thumbs Up to Vilsack Nomination

December 18, 2008

Huron, SD - The South Dakota Farmers Union is giving high marks to President-elect Barack Obama for picking former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack as the next Secretary of Agriculture. State Farmers Union president Doug Sombke says the nomination shows the President-elect wants an agricultural leader who will work to strengthen and revitalize rural America.

"We need to turn rural America around. We need to put people back out on the land. I think he has the whole country at heart when he put in Vilsack as the Secretary of Agriculture. And I think, as far as agricultural producers, it's the best thing going since, probably, 15 years ago."

Sombke says that Vilsack's strong support for alternative fuels is good news in a state like South Dakota, which has a large bio-fuels industry.

"Even though we've seen energy prices slide back a little bit here recently, we can't forget how fast things can turn around and go the other direction, as well. Like, we've seen grain go up and come down, the energy industry's the same way. And I think we're going to see that, and I hope that people don't forget that and will remember how volatile these markets are."

Some critics worry that Vilsack isn't totally supportive of organic or sustainable farming, but Sombke says he's an excellent choice as an agriculture secretary who will understand all of the needs and potential of rural America.

David Law, Public News Service - SD