Heidi Heitkamp is viewed as the front-runner
By Diego Flammini
Joe Biden has been president-elect for only a few days but names of people who could serve in his cabinet are surfacing.
Democrat Heidi Heitkamp, the former U.S. senator from North Dakota, is considered the front-runner to succeed Sonny Perdue as the next secretary of agriculture, Politico reports.
In fact, President Trump considered Heitkamp for the post in 2016 before ultimately selecting Perdue.
She “has strong moderate credentials and has in the past broken from her party on controversial policy issues,” Politico reported. “Many environmentalists strongly oppose her because of her support for the Keystone XL oil pipeline and because she voted to confirm President Donald Trump’s top two nominees at the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt and Andrew Wheeler.”
While a senator, Heitkamp served on the Senate Agriculture Committee and was the primary sponsor of nine bills that became law.
The Next Generation in Agriculture Act, made law as part of the 2018 Farm Bill, included multiple items to support beginning farmers and ranchers.
The legislation, for example, called for the creation of a permanent National Beginning Farmer and Rancher Coordinator and Agricultural Youth Coordinator within the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
It also worked to establish a next generation ag technology competition to provide incentives for mobile technologies that remove hurdles for beginning farmers and ranchers.
In addition, the legislation changed the definitions used in federal crop insurance programs to specify that a young producer is someone who has not farmed for more than 10 years. Prior to the 2018 Farm Bill, it was five years.
Since losing her senate seat in 2018, Heitkamp co-founded the One Country Project. This effort helps reconnect Democrats with rural Americans.
If selected, Heitkamp would become the second woman to lead the USDA.
Ann Veneman was the first. She served as the secretary of agriculture from 2001 to 2005 under President George W. Bush.
Heitkamp would also be the second North Dakotan to hold the position.
Ed Schafer, who served from Jan. 2008 to Jan. 2009 under President George W. Bush, was the first.
Other potential ag secretary candidates for president-elect Biden include Rep. Marcia Fudge from Ohio and Rep. Cheri Bustos from Illinois.