Three names have emerged in the first round of speculation about who will be the secretary of agriculture in an Obama administration: National Farmers Union President Tom Buis, former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack and House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson.
Before joining the NFU, Buis was the senior agricultural aide to former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle and worked as legislative director for Rep. Jim Jontz, D-Ind. In the 1980s, he was a grain and livestock farmer in Indiana with brothers Mike and Jeff, who continue to operate the family farm.
Vilsack served two terms as governor of Iowa before launching a bid for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2007. He ended his campaign in February after failing to win any major primaries.
Peterson, a CPA and native of Minnesota, led the fight for passage of the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008 and has been a staunch defender of maintaining the farm program safety net for all farmers.
Some have speculated Obama will attempt to have all of his nominees for cabinet positions selected by Dec. 1, but veteran Washington observers say that will be a tall order given the large number of candidates for positions in the new administration.