Tom Vilsack leaves Secretary of Ag post early

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WASHINGTON - Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack is leaving his post a week before a new administration takes over. Vilsack told employees in an email that Friday, Jan. 13 would be his last day.

The former Iowa governor has led the USDA for eight years and was President Obama's longest-serving cabinet secretary.

Vilsack has criticized the Trump administration for not picking an agriculture secretary. It's the only cabinet position Trump has not filled.

In a letter to USDA employees, posted on the department’s website, Vilsack thanked each of them for everything they do everyday to feed and protect the American people.

The letter reads in part:

“Your work allows America to have the most productive farmers, ranchers, and producers in the world. Your work protects our families from unsafe food and our homes from dangerous forest fires. Your work ensures that struggling families have enough to eat and our school children have more nutritious meals and snacks. Your work protects our soil and water and creates new products in labs and universities that improve our quality of life. Your work reflects the compassion of our country for those in need in other countries. Your work supports the creation of new businesses and guarantees that communities large and small are great places to live, work, and raise families. Your work inspires people all over America to buy local and support agriculture regardless of size or method of production. Your work fights against the destruction of invasive species and diseases while insuring against losses that occur when storms, droughts, and floods occur.”

Vilsack will reportedly take a position with the US Dairy Export Council.