Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Potential candidates for agriculture secretary include Kansas governor, former Georgia governor

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (MSNBC image)
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has made a point of pushing rural areas to the forefront during his eight years in office. With a change of administration coming in January, there will be a new agriculture secretary. While President-elect Donald Trump hasn't focused much on agriculture or Vilsack's replacement, there are some names floating around that could take the helm, Dan Nosowitz, reports for Modern Farmer. Nosowitz looks at four potential candidates. He doesn't mention Kansas Rep. Tim Huelskamp, who earlier this month expressed interest in being agriculture secretary.

Here are four potential candidates:

Kansas Republican Gov. Sam Brownback "was the secretary of the Kansas Department of Agriculture from 1986 to 1993 and while a senator served on the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee," Nosowitz writes. Brownback, who has voted to increase minimum wage and to limit farm subsidies, "supports increasing the number of legal immigrants and was a co-sponsor of the 2005 Kennedy/McCain bill aimed at creating a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants. He especially supports more foreign workers in the U.S. for farm work and has worked to establish a guest worker program." He also opposed universal healthcare.

Chuck Conner, former former deputy ag secretary under George W. Bush, "has gone on record supporting improved access to global markets, a substantial safety net for farmers and a reduction in regulations from the EPA," Nosowitz writes. "He has supported a guest worker program and has vigorously supported an overhaul of the immigration system to ensure that immigrant workers can safely and legally take on farm work."

Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller reversed "the ban on soft drinks and fried foods in Texas public schools," Nosowitz writes. "Miller has been extremely controversial in Texas, at the center of several firestorms about unethical financial transactions like using public funds to receive a cure-all medical shot and compete in a rodeo, or hiring his closest advisor’s wife, or the repayment of loans with campaign funds. An early Trump supporter, Miller is best known outside Texas for calling Hillary Clinton an extremely bad word on Twitter."

Sonny Perdue, the former governor of Georgia, "did not focus on agriculture in his governorship (2003-2011)," Nosowitz writes. "He won his initial governorship campaign by opposing the removal of the Confederate symbol from the Georgia state flag. He has opposed universal health care and access to welfare and other services for illegal immigrants."

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