Senate Ag faces 18 confirmation hearings |

Senate Ag faces 18 confirmation hearings

The Senate Agriculture Committee has not yet scheduled a confirmation hearing for Sonny Perdue, President Donald Trump’s nominee for Agriculture secretary, but when that hearing is scheduled it will be only the first of 18 that the committee is expected to hold in the coming months.

There are 14 positions at the Agriculture Department that require Senate confirmation and there will be three vacancies at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and one for the Farm Credit Administration board. Trump has not nominated candidates for any of these positions except Agriculture secretary.

As the committee of jurisdiction for these agencies, the Senate Agriculture Committee has the responsibility of receiving the nomination papers from the White House, examining them and holding a hearing on each candidate. Each hearing must also be followed by a vote in committee before the nomination can proceed to the Senate floor for a final vote.

Senate aides have told The Hagstrom Report that considering nominees for confirmation is a primary responsibility of the Senate Agriculture Committee and will take priority over work on the next farm bill. The current farm bill expires on Sept 30, 2018.

Agriculture Department appointments requiring confirmation

1. Secretary

2. Deputy secretary

3. Assistant secretary for congressional relations

4. Assistant secretary for administration

5. Assistant secretary for civil rights

6. Undersecretary for rural development

7. Undersecretary for food, nutrition and consumer services

8. Undersecretary for food safety

9. Undersecretary for farm and foreign agricultural services

10. Undersecretary for marketing and regulatory programs

11. Undersecretary for natural resources and environment

12. Undersecretary for research, education and economics

13. General counsel

14. Chief financial officer

Commodity Futures Trading Commission

Two of the five commissioner positions are already vacant, and Timothy Massad, the chairman of the commission during the Obama administration who is now serving as a regular commissioner, has said he will leave soon, which will create a third vacancy.

J. Christopher Giancarlo, the only Republican on the commission, is serving as acting chairman until Trump nominates a chair and that person is confirmed. Giancarlo was sworn in on June 16, 2014 for a term expiring in April 2019.

Democrat Sharon Bowen, the third commissioner now in office, was sworn in on June 9, 2014, for a term that also expires in 2019.

Farm Credit Administration

At the FCA, the regulator of the Farm Credit System institutions and the Federal Agricultural Mortgage Corporation (Farmer Mac), the term of Kenneth Spearman, one of the three board members, expired on May 21, 2016, and Spearman is serving as a member of the board until his successor is appointed.

The current chairman of the Farm Credit Administration is Dallas Tonsager, a Democrat, who was appointed to the Farm Credit Administration board by President Barack Obama on March 13, 2015, for a term that expires May 21, 2020.

Obama designated Tonsager chairman and CEO on November 22, 2016, and under FCA rules he will serve in that capacity until his term expires.

The third board member is Republican Jeffery Hall who was appointed to the FCA board by Obama on March 17, 2015. Having succeeded Leland A. Strom, Hall is serving a term that expires on October 13, 2018.

–The Hagstrom Report