Tom Philpott invites us to make our voices heard on Obama's choice for USDA head. The group of 88 foodies behind the recent open letter to Obama have opened it up to anyone who want to sign. If you want to add your name to those supporting an agricultural reformer for the post, go here.
Philpott and Kate Sheppard, both at Grist, also supply some other aggie tidbits. First, Philpott points to Obama's endorsement of a recent study that showed how giant environmentally toxic CAFO's have gamed the system (with help from the USDA) to receive most of the money from the recent farm bill's main conservation program as possible evidence that he will settle on a reformer in the end. Meanwhile, Sheppard links to an article from the WaPo indicating Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sibelius has withdrawn her name from consideration for any and all cabinet posts (Ag Sec included) - whether out of concern for Kansas or because she was passed over, we'll never know.
On the one hand, the selection process for ag chief hasn't exactly been inspiring. On the other, anyone who had the political instincts to choose Retired Gen. Eric Shinseki as head of Veterans Affairs (the guy who was right about Iraq and told truth to power, not to mention was one of only a few active duty amputees), seems unlikely to put an ag lobbyist or backpocket pol of the Farm Lobby in charge of the USDA. Maybe I'm fooling myself, but I don't think so.