President Bush made the announcement yesterday from the White House that he is nominating Ed Schafer as the next Secretary of Agriculture.
"The Secretary of Agriculture needs to be someone who understands the challenges facing America's farmers, ranchers and consumers," Bush said. "Ed Schafer is the right choice to fill this post."
Bush says Schafer's leadership will help implement a farm bill that provides an adequate safety net for farmers, protects our lands and the environment.
Schafer says he is honored to be chosen, and if confirmed is looking forward to working with the employees of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Acting Agriculture Secretary Chuck Conner, who has filled the position since Mike Johanns resigned on Sept. 20, says Schafer knows American agriculture and comes in with the right qualifications for the job. Conner also says Schafer's experience in promoting trade with other countries fits very well with the administration's goals.
"I'm confident that Ed Schafer is going to step in and immediately contribute in terms of advocating for the trade agenda put forth by the Bush Administration," Conner says. "He's going to be a great Secretary of Agriculture and I personally look forward to working side by side with him to see the progress of this agency continue to roll forward."
Conner will continue as acting secretary until Schafer is confirmed by the Senate. He will then resume his duties as Deputy Secretary.
So far reaction to President Bush's choice of a new Ag Secretary has been very positive.
"Schafer is experienced in dealing with issues such as disaster assistance, international trade and renewable energy policy; all issues at the forefront of today's political environment," says Jay Truitt, Vice President of Governmental Affairs for the National Cattlemen's Beef Assocition. "He will bring a fresh perspective to USDA at a time when American agriculture is facing many new challenges in policy development and opportunities in innovation and technology. This is a critical time for U.S. agriculture, and we're looking forward to working with Mr. Schafer."
Bob Stallman, President of the American Farm Bureau Federation, cited Schafer's background in small business as a positive, giving him understanding of the economic challenges faced by farmers and ranchers.
"As a former governor of North Dakota, Schafer knows the issues important to rural America," Stallman says. "He also knows the importance of communicating with farmers and ranchers."
The National Farmers Union, National Association of State Departments of Agriculture and many members of Congress have also voiced approval for Schafer's nomination as Secretary of Agriculture.