Obama’s Secretary of Agriculture: The Saga Continues

John Salazar

John Salazar? Is a potato farmer. With strong ties to corporate agriculture.

The blogging world, at least those interested in who might take over the reins at the USDA (see Mark Bittman of the New York Times on this issue), think that maybe John Salazar of Colorado might be the pick. La Vida Locavore, in the person of Jill Richardson, seems to think that Salazar has a shot at being Deputy Farmer-in-Chief.

Richardson says of Salazar, currently Democratic representative of Colorado’s 3rd district and member of the House Agriculture Committee:

1. For COOL, country of origin labeling
2. For the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (a pilot program to give free fresh fruits and veggies to school kids)
3. For corn based ethanol (that’s bad)
4. A potato farmer and rancher
5. A “Bush Dog Dem” – a conservative Dem who votes with Bush far too frequently
6. Known for concern about water rights in Colorado.

Last week, The New York Times blog, “Diners Journal” written by Kim Severson, included a post titled “A Pitch to Obama on Food and Farming,” saying

To help move the process along, nearly 90 notable figures in the world of sustainable agriculture and food sent a letter to the Obama transition team earlier this week offering their six top picks for what they called “the sustainable choice for the next U.S. Secretary of Agriculture.”

Some of those 90 people include Alice Waters, Frances Moore and Anna Lappé, Marion Nestle, Eric Schlosser, Deborah Madison, Rick Bayless, and Michael Pollan.

These are the people those 90 want to be considered seriously by President Barack Obama for Secretary of Agriculture:

  1. Gus Schumacher, former Under Secretary of Agriculture for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services and former Massachusetts Commissioner of Agriculture.

    Gus Schumacher
    Gus Schumacher
  2. Chuck Hassebrook
    Chuck Hassebrook

    Chuck Hassebrook, executive director, Center for Rural Affairs, Lyons, Neb.

  3. Sarah Vogel
    Sarah Vogel

    Sarah Vogel, former Commissioner of Agriculture for North Dakota, lawyer, Bismarck, N.D.

  4. Fred Kirschenmann
    Fred Kirschenmann

    Fred Kirschenmann, organic farmer, distinguished fellow at the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture in Ames, Iowa, and president of the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, Pocantico Hills, NY.

  5. Mark Ritchie
    Mark Ritchie

    Mark Ritchie, Minnesota Secretary of State, former policy analyst in Minnesota’s Department of Agriculture under Governor Rudy Perpich, co-founder of the Institute for
    Agriculture and Trade Policy.

  6. Neil Hamilton
    Neil Hamilton

    Neil Hamilton, Dwight D. Opperman Chair of Law and director of the Agricultural Law Center, Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa.

Let’s hope somebody listens.

One thought on “Obama’s Secretary of Agriculture: The Saga Continues

  1. Gus Schumacher, a real farmer, did great things for locavores in Massachusetts, getting a system of farmer’s markets going that has changed everything in a state where dairy farms were turning into tract houses mighty fast, tobacco fields into shopping malls (well, that might be okay). Like some of the others above, however, Gus would need help because this is a political job. It’s about terms of trade, regulation, marketing, agrobiz, and subsidies as well as conservation and crop rotation. It’s a cabinet-level position so the secretary can remind the secretary of state that the Japanese don’t let our oranges into their market, and that the price of oil is making it really hard to farm soybeans. Also there is a bureaucracy already there that has to be massaged, tamed, and transformed. “Small is Beautiful” is a great way to think about the horizon, but meanwhile large has to be dealt with.

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