Conflict over Ag secretary continues in Trump transition
President-elect Donald Trump has not yet announced an Agriculture secretary, and there are conflicts between the Trump transition team and his agricultural advisory committee over who should be selected, the San Antonio Express-News reported Friday.
According to the article, Gary Baise, an attorney with OFW Law who is involved in the agricultural advisory committee, noted that he had been told to back off his criticism of the possible nomination of Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., as Agriculture secretary. Baise said he would not back off, and he also said he was not enthusiastic about the possible nomination of Idaho Republican Gov. Butch Otter. Animal welfare activists have also noted that Otter signed Idaho’s “ag gag” law that would make it illegal for the activists to film inside animal production facilities.
The article noted that the suggestion of Heitkamp appears to have come from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., on the grounds that if Heitkamp were to leave the Senate, a Republican would likely win the seat and the Republicans would increase their majority.
On Friday, Jason Miller, a Trump spokesman, praised Heitkamp to reporters.
“She’s obviously very well qualified and has a great deal of leadership experience and familiarity with this particular subject matter,” Miller said, according to a report in Politico. “But I would not yet start writing that decisions have or have not been made on that front until we hear directly from the president-elect,” he added.
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In response to the severe drought conditions in the West and Great Plains, the Agriculture Department this week announced that plans to help cover the cost of transporting feed for livestock that rely on grazing.