List of ag, interior secretary candidates narrows

Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
Dec 9, 2008
List of ag, interior secretary candidates narrows

The speculation over who will be chosen to lead USDA as part of President Barack Obama’s cabinet is growing. Last week, the list of names appeared to have been narrowed down to just a few individuals, including Rep. John Salazar, D-CO, Kansas Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebilius, Dennis Wolff, current Pennsylvania secretary of agriculture, Tom Buis, president of National Farmers Union, former Rep. Charles Stenholm, D- TX, Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, D-SD, and former Rep. Jill Long Thompson, D-IN. Sebilius, although named as one possibility for the job, has said she is not interested in the job and is being considered for a number of posts in the new administration. Salazar may be the current front-runner for the position. Last Tuesday, the U.S. Congressional Hispanic Caucus forwarded his name to the administration as a favorite for the job and it was announced by the Denver Post that he has spoken to the Obama Transition Team, but has not been officially interviewed “I am humbled that I may be under consideration as a possible nominee for secretary of agriculture. Should President-elect Obama honor me with a nomination to agriculture, I would certainly consider it,” Salazar told the Denver Post. “However, at this time, I am continuing my work on behalf of my constituents in the 3rd Congressional District and preparing for the many difficult challenges facing the 111th Congress.”

Salazar was a seed potato farmer and cattle producer in Colorado’s San Luis Valley, on the ranch which his family has operated since 1850, prior to being elected to Congress in 2004. He could be a strong voice for beef producers as part of the Obama team. His experience could benefit beef producers during an administration that could see significant environmental legislation.

“I’ve lived agriculture, and I sleep agriculture. I certainly want to make sure that this country continues to be able to produce a safe food supply. It would be a sad day in America if we ever have to depend on other countries to produce our food,” he said in emailed comments.

Salazar was elected to a third Congressional term in November. He serves on the House Agriculture Committee and played a significant role in the crafting of the 2008 Farm Bill, pushing hard for additional aid programs for fruit and vegetable farmers and more biofuel research. He also serves on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

See Shortlist on page 15