Biden chooses moderate Vilsack to return as agriculture secretary

Tom Vilsack, agriculture secretary throughout the Obama years, is President-elect Biden's choice to lead the USDA and U.S. agriculture through the recovery from a trade war and the Covid-19 pandemic. A former governor of Iowa, Vilsack was a top backer of Biden in rural America during the fall campaign and would come to the Biden administration with friendly relations with lawmakers and farm groups.

Not looking to run USDA, says Peterson

House Agriculture chairman Collin Peterson threw cold water Thursday on suggestions that he should be agriculture secretary in the Biden administration. "There's plenty of people out there that want the job," he told reporters, adding that he was "not looking for a full-time, four-year job" after 30 years in Congress.

More than agriculture at USDA, but not in its name

It took little more than a shake of the head and a few reproachful words for House Agriculture chairman Kika de la Garza to sink a Clinton-era proposal to change the USDA's name to the Department of Food and Agriculture. "It would better reflect what USDA actually does and where the dollars are spent," said Dan Glickman, the agriculture secretary who brought the idea to Capitol Hill as part of a reorganization of the department and its myriad duties.

Progressive groups back Fudge for agriculture secretary

An array of farm, animal welfare, climate change, and environmental groups urged President-elect Joe Biden to select Ohio Rep. Marcia Fudge for agriculture secretary. "She has long been an ally to farmers, food-chain workers, consumers, and rural communities," the groups said.

Boost SNAP benefits by 15 percent, says Fudge, potential USDA nominee

On the same day President-elect Joe Biden urged Congress to pass additional coronavirus relief, Ohio Rep. Marcia Fudge said on Monday “it is long past time to increase SNAP benefits by 15 percent” and devote additional funds to other public nutrition programs. Fudge, a leading …

Biden review of USDA may have a climate mitigation perspective

Robert Bonnie, an Obama appointee at the USDA and now the head of an initiative to identify agriculture's role in mitigating climate change, will lead a review of the Agriculture Department to prepare the way for the incoming administration, said the Biden transition office. Meanwhile, Ohio Rep. Marcia Fudge said on Wednesday that she would be honored to serve as Biden's agriculture secretary. If chosen, she would be the first Black woman to hold the cabinet post. (No paywall)

Women dominate list of potential nominees for agriculture secretary

Obama-era officials and lawmakers top the list of potential nominees for agriculture secretary in the Biden administration, and, for the first time, most of the contenders are women. Former Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, co-founder of the One Country Project to boost Democratic support in rural America, was the most frequently mentioned name.

Costa makes it a two-man race for ag gavel

Eight-term Rep. Jim Costa, who represents an agricultural district around Fresno in California's Central Valley, announced his candidacy for chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, saying the committee "should reflect the changing landscape of agriculture in the United States." As the majority party, House Democrats will select the chairman in the weeks ahead.

Earp ‘isn’t the right person’ to head USDA civil rights office, says House panel leader

The head of USDA’s civil rights office, Trump nominee Naomi Earp, said during a House hearing on Tuesday that some people file multiple complaints of workplace discrimination as a way to punish their managers, “a pretty effective tool” in her view. “These remarks show me — and should show …

House, Senate bills would triple farm-to-school program

Companion bills in the House and Senate would triple the funding, to $15 million a year, for the farm-to-school grant program, which buys locally grown fresh food to help feed schoolchildren.