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President-elect Barack Obama has selected former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack as agriculture secretary and will announce the appointment on Dec. 17, according to news reports out of Washington D.C.

Various stories cited Democratic sources familiar with the selection process, who spoke on a condition of anonymity, as the source of the news.

Vilsack declined to comment on the report when reached by phone by the Chicago Tribune. "Those questions should be answered by the transition office and the president-elect," Vilsack said, answering his cell phone from what he said was Des Moines, IA.

Vilsack would be the fourth former opponent of Obama in the 2008 Democratic primaries to join his new administration.

He had been considered the front-runner for the agriculture secretary position shortly after Obama won the presidency, but speculation that he would get the job cooled after he told the Des Moines Register in late November that he had not been contacted about the post by the Obama transition team.

Vilsack, 58, was a strong supporter of President-elect Obama's chief rival, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton in the Democratic primaries, but later campaigned for Obama. During his two terms as governor of Iowa, which began in 1998, he advocated renewable energy and the state's alternative-fuels industry.

According to Reuters, Colorado Sen. Ken Salazar, who was also a candidate to head the USDA, will be named Secretary of the Interior on Wednesday.

Editor’s note: Richard Brock, Corn & Soybean Digest's marketing editor, is president of Brock Associates, a farm market advisory firm, and publisher of The Brock Report.