Who’s Going to Be the Next Agriculture Secretary?

Brian German Industry

Projections are being made for who will be named the Agriculture Secretary once Joe Biden is sworn in as president. Nearly a dozen names are being talked about as the Biden transition team makes preparations for the incoming administration. Some of the contenders for the position include Representative Marcia Fudge of Ohio, Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding, California Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross, and former deputy agriculture secretary Kathleen Merrigan. One of the frontrunners for the position, however, is former Senator Heidi Heitkamp from North Dakota.

Agriculture Secretary

Heitkamp served from 2013 to 2019 and helped to pass two farm bills during her tenure. Politico, as well as Bloomberg, have both highlighted Heitkamp as the most likely choice for the position. However, Heitkamp is not a shoo-in for the job. A coalition of progressive-leaning organizations has come out against Heitkamp taking over as Agriculture Secretary. A letter was recently sent to the Biden transition team opposing Heitkamp as a nominee for the position. More than 160 groups representing a wide variety of interests were signatories.

At the same time, Representative Marcia Fudge is receiving a notable amount of support. More than 50 farm, environment, food safety, and animal welfare groups have come out in favor of Fudge taking over as Agriculture Secretary. Food & Water Action and Family Farm Action organized a letter addressed to President-elect Biden calling for Fudge’s appointment. The coalition describes Fudge as “an ally to farmers, food-chain workers, consumers, and rural communities.”

Other names being circulated include Illinois Representative Cheri Bustos, Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, and former Deputy Agriculture Secretary Krysta Harden. The head of the Biden transition team responsible for reviewing the USDA, Robert Bonnie is also reportedly in the running. Thus far, none of the most significant commodity groups have made any formal endorsements of any of the potential candidates.

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Brian German

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Ag News Director, AgNet West