Government Affairs Update
With 2016 nearing its end all eyes within agriculture remain on President-Elect Trump’s transition process and who he’ll name as the next Secretary of Agriculture. In short, nobody knows; the transition team has been tight-lipped on this subject. What we do know is that this cabinet post is one of the last to receive a nomination, and that several names continue to circulate. Among those apparently under consideration are former Texas A&M President and former USDA undersecretary for food safety Elsa Murano, former California Lt. Gov. Abel Maldanado, and current Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller. Other names circulating in the agricultural press include the CEO of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives Chuck Conner, former Texas Agriculture Commissioner Susan Combs, and North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp.
All these candidates would bring knowledge of agriculture to the position of Agriculture Secretary, albeit with varying levels of knowledge of the sugarbeet industry or U.S. sugar policy. Former North Dakota Governor Ed Schafer has been quoted in the press saying he thinks Chuck Conner would be the best candidate for the job.
Those of us in sugar will continue to pay special attention to whomever receives the nomination and we’ll work with our friends in the Senate to bring to light during the confirmation process public policy issues of importance to us. But we will be looking beyond the Secretary’s position to the other important jobs within USDA that can affect sugar. Those include the Deputy Secretary, the Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services, and the Administrators of the Farm Service Agency and the Risk Management Agency. All these people, and more, have influence over key decisions within USDA, and we look forward to getting to know, and working with, the new team.