President-elect Biden is yet to name his head of the USDA
By Diego Flammini
American organizations are voicing opinions on potential candidates to serve as secretary of agriculture in President-elect Joe Biden’s cabinet.
More than 100 groups signed a letter addressed to the president-elect, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and the presidential transition team opposing naming Heidi Heitkamp as the next head of the USDA.
The former U.S. senator from North Dakota is seen as a front-runner to succeed Sonny Perdue.
The groups, which include the American Grassfed Association, the Food Revolution Network and the Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance as signatories, believe Heitkamp isn’t a good candidate because her interests don’t support family farms.
“Heitkamp is the wrong choice for the USDA because she has aligned herself with corporate agribusiness at the expense of family farmers, supports fossil fuel interests and holds views that are out of step with the Democratic Party and the majority of Americans,” the groups wrote in their Nov. 17 letter.
The organizations cited some of Heitkamp’s voting and legislative decisions they felt affected family farms and rural America negatively.
These decisions included supporting legislation to ease air quality regulations on commercial farms and supporting President Trump’s nomination of Scott Pruitt to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, the groups wrote.
Other groups have come out in support of another potential candidate.
More than 20 food bank and hunger relief organizations support Ohio’s Marcia Fudge to succeed Sonny Perdue at the USDA.
The Congresswoman’s efforts to increase food security for families make her a good fit for the position, the groups say.
“Her championship of (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) – a program that has kept millions of people out of food insecurity and a critical component of our federal safety net for low-income Americans, is unparalleled and demonstrates a deep understanding of community needs,” the organizations said in a Nov. 23 letter to President-elect Biden.
The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the American Federation of Teachers and the United Food and Commercial Workers Union have also released statements supporting Fudge.
Farms.com has contacted the American Farm Bureau Federation for comment on the qualities the next Agriculture Secretary needs to be a successful representative for the U.S. ag sector and rural America.