USDA nominations

Half of USDA’s undersecretary posts are yet to be filled

Nearly a year after Tom Vilsack became agriculture secretary, his corps of sub-cabinet executives, the eight undersecretaries who oversee each wing of the USDA's activities, is just half filled. The White House has yet to announce candidates for two of the posts, and two other nominations await Senate action.

Nominee would build ‘civil rights culture’ at USDA

Declaring "there is no place at USDA for discrimination," University of Michigan law professor Margo Schlanger told senators on Wednesday that she would build "a civil rights culture" at the USDA if confirmed as assistant secretary for civil rights. At the same confirmation hearing, Chavonda Jacobs-Young said she would be an advocate for advanced technology, such as gene editing, if confirmed as undersecretary for research.

More USDA nominees in the pipeline, says Vilsack

The White House is currently vetting possible nominees for key sub-cabinet positions at the USDA, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack during a teleconference on Thursday. "I suspect we will be seeing nominees soon on some of those vacancies."

USDA nominees Bonnie and Torres Small are cleared for Senate vote

Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow said the Senate Agriculture Committee is making progress on stocking the USDA with President Biden's choices for sub-cabinet posts. The committee advanced two nominations to the floor on Tuesday, creating the possibility of confirmation votes before the Senate adjourns for its summer recess.

Wildfires and workplace are top priorities for Biden nominee to oversee U.S. forests

President Biden's nominee to oversee the 193 million-acre national forest system said on Thursday that he would focus on wildfire management and prevention and on eradicating racial and sexual discrimination at the Forest Service. "If confirmed, I will be the person responsible for providing leadership to ensure that everyone is treated fairly," said Homer Wilkes, a 41-year USDA employee.

Climate programs will be voluntary, incentive-based, says USDA nominee

The USDA's climate mitigation initiatives will be built on a simple rule: "If they don't work for producers and landowners, they're not going to work for the climate," said Robert Bonnie, the Biden nominee to run the USDA's crop subsidy and land stewardship programs, on Thursday. "Making sure we get that right is going to be a high priority."

USDA nominee will seek fair livestock marketing rules

Biden nominee Jennifer Moffitt said she would strengthen USDA rules to give farmers more muscle in dealing with meat processors if she is confirmed as agriculture undersecretary for marketing. "Should I be confirmed, I do commit to supporting trade, to supporting fair marketplace practices," she told senators on Thursday.

RFS ‘is definitely a priority for this administration,’ says EPA nominee

The Biden administration plans a thorough review of recent EPA decisions involving the federal mandate to mix corn ethanol and other biofuels into gasoline, said Michael Regan, the White House nominee to run the agency, at his Wednesday confirmation hearing. "The RFS is definitely a priority for this administration."

Vilsack: Get stuff done quickly

President Biden's nominee for agriculture secretary, Tom Vilsack, said he would arrive at the USDA with a "serious focus on getting stuff done quickly," considering the many challenges facing the department, from the pandemic to racial equity and rural development.

Confirmation hearing Feb. 2 for Vilsack

The Senate Agriculture Committee will hold a confirmation hearing on Feb. 2 for Tom Vilsack, President Biden's nominee for agriculture secretary, said the panel's Democratic and Republican leaders on Wednesday.

Shea is acting chief of USDA; Biden freezes regulations

Kevin Shea, a longtime USDA official, became acting agriculture secretary with the arrival of the Biden administration on Wednesday, said a USDA spokesman amid the appointment of several new officials. The White House also announced a freeze on new federal regulations.

Back to square one for USDA nominees

Three nominations for senior USDA posts overseeing research, food safety, and civil rights died with the 115th Congress on Wednesday, and the path forward for those nominations in the two-year session that opened on Thursday is unclear.

Wary Democrats slow path for USDA civil rights nominee

The Senate Agriculture Committee cleared three USDA nominees for a floor vote on Wednesday, but significant Democratic opposition could prevent a confirmation vote this year on Naomi Earp, President Trump’s pick to be the agency’s assistant secretary for civil rights.

Senators, USDA nominee agree labels should say if it’s animal or cell-based meat

When cell-based meat appears in grocery stores, it should be labeled so that consumers know it came from a lab and not from livestock, two cattle-state senators told the Trump administration’s nominee to run the USDA’s food safety unit on Wednesday.

USDA nominee earned $100,000 in ‘pink slime’ trial

Texas Tech professor Mindy Brashears, President Trump’s nominee for agriculture undersecretary for food safety, collected $100,000 as an expert witness for Beef Products Inc. in its defamation lawsuit against ABC-TV last year.

Senate confirms USDA and CFTC nominees

On Tuesday, the leaders of the Senate Agriculture Committee announced that three of President Trump’s nominees have received Senate approval to begin work at the USDA and the CFTC.

Senate ag panel set to vote on CFTC and USDA nominees

Members of the Senate Agriculture Committee are scheduled to vote Tuesday on two Trump administration nominees, Dan Berkovitz to be a CFTC commissioner and James Hubbard to be agriculture undersecretary for natural resources.

‘Harassment has no place’ in the Forest Service, says USDA nominee

Lifelong forester James Hubbard told senators on Tuesday that if he is confirmed as agriculture undersecretary for natural resources, he will personally combat sexual harassment in the 32,000-member Forest Service.

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