Friday, January 06, 2017

Rural voters boosted Trump, but he's late in naming his agriculture and veterans secretaries

Sonny Perdue: Secretary or not?
President-elect Donald Trump's delay in naming a secretary of agriculture is causing concern in rural areas, Alan Bjerga reports for Bloomberg News. Trump, who will be inaugurated on Jan. 20, has filled 13 of 15 Cabinet positions, but not the one that most connects with rural areas.

Trump also hasn't named a head of the Department of Veterans Affairs; service members hail disproportionately from rural areas. The Lexington Herald-Leader reports Trump met today with Kentucky Lt. Gov. Jenean Hampton, who is an Air Force veteran and an African American.

Roger Johnson, president of the National Farmers Union, the second-largest farm lobby, told Bjerga, “It certainly has folks concerned or worried that maybe it just doesn’t seem to be getting the attention that we would like it to. Folks in agriculture and rural America feel like they delivered for this president and they just want there to be more attention.”

The last three presidents, Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, all named an agriculture secretary before Christmas, Bjerga writes. "Trump spokesman Sean Spicer said Wednesday the president-elect is continuing to meet with qualified people for the job. Spicer gave no further update when he spoke Thursday with reporters on his daily call to brief them about the transition."

Kathleen Merrigan, who was deputy to outgoing Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, told Bjerga, “People feel like they delivered for Donald Trump and now they’re kind of the last in line. I’m just stunned that it’s taking this long.” Former Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman, who served six years under Clinton, told Bjerga, “I find it in a sense unsettling because it was in small towns and rural America where the president-elect picked up his biggest margins and he hasn’t named a secretary of rural America.”

Those close to Trump say one of the top candidates is former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue. "Others interviewed include former Lt. Gov. of California Abel Maldonado, former Texas A&M University President Elsa Murano, former U.S. Representative Henry Bonilla of Texas and Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller,." Bjerga reports. Also, Kip Tom, a member of Trump’s ag advisory committee and a large farm operator in Indiana, visited Trump Tower Thursday, Laurie Bedford reports for Successful Farming. Agri-Pulse reports that Tom may be under consideration to be a special ag adviser to Trump, which he might want to announce in conjunction with the secretary pick.

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