Obama to name Agriculture Secretary soon

Obama to name Agriculture Secretary soon

President Elect Barack Obama has not yet named someone to fill the post of Agriculture Secretary yet. Let's take a look at the candidates, and break down what each appointment might mean for farmers: Dennis Wolff, Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary In 2008, Dennis Wolff moved to protect more than 30,000 acres of Pennsylvania farmland, under its nationally recognized Farmland Preservation Program. The state allocated $33 million to the program, which aims to slow or stop the loss of prime farmland by allowing the government to purchase "conservation easements" from farm owners. Tom Buis, president of National Farmers Union. Tom Buis was a full-time farmer in Indiana before moving to Washington D.C. in 1987. He began working for the National Farmers Union in 1998, and became its president in 2006. In 2007 he presented a statement before a House of Representatives subcommittee on the loss of the family farm. He advocated several methods to help ensure that small farms would be able to compete with colossal factory farms like Tyson Foods. He also blasted the USDA for "mishandling" the NAIS (National Animal Identification System), and promoted expanding the COOL system to other agricultural products. Former Rep. Charles Stenholm, D-Texas. Stenholm, a member of the Blue Dog Democrats, is one of the most conservative Southern Democrats in the House. Stenholm was a key player in the passage of the 2002 Farm Bill, which provided assistance to commodity producers. Since retiring from the House, Stenholm has been involved in advocating on behalf of the horse meat industry. (Controversy!) Rep. John Salazar, D-Colo. Salazar is another conservative choice, having also been associated with the Blue Dog Democrats in the House. Salazar has often focused on conservation issues and water rights. One of his most high-profile victories came when he helped successfully prevent the Army from condemning 500,000 acres of Colorado farmland so that it could expand the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site. Salazar is also a strong proponent of veterans' rights, and is himself a veteran. In 2005 he introduced the "Stolen Valor" act to Congress, which beefs up the ability of law enforcement to prosecute "individuals who claim to have received military medals they did not earn." (Is this a big problem in Colorado?) Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, D-S.D. Another Blue Dog Democrat, Herseth Sandlin is also the youngest female member of the House. A supporter of rural rights and a leading advocate for ethanol and other biofuels, Herseth Sandlin presents herself as a "populist." Her tenure in the House has been marked by vocal controversy over her conflicting stances on non-agricultural issues such as abortion (pro-choice), gay marriage (against), Bush's energy plan (in favor), gun control (in favor), and the NSA wiretapping program (in favor). Former Rep. Jill Long Thompson, D-Ind. Long Thompson served as Under Secretary for Rural Economic and Community Development during Clinton's tenure. The RECD funds rural housing and development programs. As Under Secretary, Long Thompson helped to reform the single-family loan program, which supplements home loans for low-income home buyers. Jill Long Thompson's focus has largely been on rural residents, and not on agriculture per se.