Murano of Texas A&M to speak with Trump
Next week, President-elect Donald Trump will discuss the position of Agriculture secretary with Elsa Murano, former president of Texas A&M University and Agriculture undersecretary for food safety in the George W. Bush administration, the Trump transition team confirmed in a call to reporters today.
The transition team’s public acknowledgment that the president-elect would interview Murano appears to signal that he wants both a woman and a Texan as Agriculture secretary. Because the transition team has said Trump is going to meet with Murano, her chances seem to be better than either former Texas Agriculture Commissioner Susan Combs or Sid Miller, the current Texas agriculture commissioner.
Combs has met with Vice President-elect Mike Pence, and Miller has said he will meet with the transition team, but there is no indication that Trump himself has agreed to meet with either of them.
Jason Miller, Trump’s spokesman, today praised Murano in the call to reporters.
“She comes very highly recommended … and obviously her track record of running a major university really speaks for itself,” Miller told reporters, according to a Texas Tribune account.
But Texas newspapers were quick to note today that Murano experienced major management problems at Texas A&M and resigned the presidency after one year. Murano left USDA to become the vice chancellor and dean of Texas A&M’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences in 2005 and served in that position before being elevated to the presidency. She resigned from the presidency in 2009, but has stayed at the university as director of the Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture with the titles of professor and president emerita.
Murano was born in Cuba in 1959, but left with her parents in 1961. She went to high school in Miami and attended Miami Dade Junior College before transferring to Florida International University, where she got a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences. She followed that with a master’s in anaerobic microbiology and a Ph.D. in food science and technology from Virginia Tech. She began her teaching career at Iowa State University and, in 1995, joined the faculty at Texas A&M University, where she was also the director of the university’s Center for Food Safety and became a full professor before leaving for USDA.
Meanwhile, Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., who has met with Trump and was considered a candidate for Agriculture secretary, told KFGO, a Fargo, N.D., radio station, that she is likely to stay in the Senate.
–The Hagstrom Report
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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.