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Obama's Agriculture Nominee a Biofuel Proponent


President-elect Barack Obama's choice for agriculture secretary shares Mr. Obama's plan to develop the country's biofuel industry as a way to help farmers and to reduce dependence on foreign oil.

Tom Vilsack has experience with agriculture as the former governor of the midwestern state of Iowa, whose economy is heavily dependent on farming. The Democrat worked to develop Iowa's ethanol industry, which uses one of the state's biggest crops - corn - to produce fuel.

As agriculture secretary, Vilsack will also manage Mr. Obama's plan to limit the amount of financial assistance paid to corporate farming businesses. The issue has been a major point of contention in world trade talks, with emerging economies demanding rich nations cut agricultural subsidies. Vilsack has taken a moderate stance on the subject, arguing for a shift in funding from traditional subsidies to new initiatives that improve environmental practices.

Vilsack briefly sought the Democratic nomination for president. After he dropped out, he endorsed Senator Hillary Clinton, who Mr. Obama has picked to serve as secretary of state.

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