The next head of the USDA should be from a major ag state, an industry rep said
By Diego Flammini
The president-elect has filled one of his cabinet positions.
On Wednesday, Joe Biden named Ron Klain, a senior advisor in his presidential election campaign, as his chief of staff.
With one cabinet member named, the focus turns to the remaining positions including agriculture.
The next head of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) should be from a major ag production state, said Daryl Lies, president of the North Dakota Farm Bureau.
“I think having someone appointed from an ag-dominant state is going to be seen as a positive,” he told Farms.com. “One of our worries would be that it would be someone who’s more urban-located and disconnected from the land of production.”
One of the front-runners for the USDA position is a North Dakotan.
Heidi Heitkamp, a former U.S. senator, could be in line to succeed Sonny Perdue.
Given Lies’s dealings with Heitkamp, he believes she would be a good fit for the USDA role.
“She advocated for different things including the mapping and delineations of wetlands for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, so farmers and ranchers had certainty on those issues,” he said. “Understanding those on-the-ground issues and being able to make our land more productive would be a big advantage for her.
“She attended our meetings a few times and met with our members. We didn’t always agree on issues, but we were able to have positive discussions about where we thought (ag) needed to be. Being able to work with people who have different views and opinions is an important skill to have when involved with government.”
Other names have also surfaced as possible ag secretaries.
They include Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, who may also be a candidate for attorney general, CNBC reported.
House Rep. Chellie Pingree of Maine may also be a contender, Cleveland.com reported.
In addition, House Reps. Cheri Bustos from Illinois or Marcia Fudge from Ohio could be President-elect Biden’s pick for ag secretary, Politico reported.