Still no word on Trump’s Ag secretary pick
December 16, 2016
As of December 16, President-elect Donald Trump still had not made a decision on Agriculture secretary, the only remaining Cabinet post besides Veterans Affairs secretary yet to be announced.
A Trump spokesman said Dec. 16, that the transition does not consider itself behind schedule, Politico reported. The spokesman also declined to say whether Trump would make an offer to Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., but said, "She's obviously very well qualified and has a great deal of leadership experience and familiarity with this particular subject matter," Politico reported.
Members of Trump's agricultural advisory committee have rebelled against the possibility that Heitkamp might be named secretary. The most recent person to be considered for the job is Idaho Republican Gov. Butch Otter.
Mike Brandenburg, a North Dakota farmer who serves on Trump's agricultural advisory committee said he and other members of the advisory group are lobbying for Charles Herbster, a Nebraska Angus breeder to be chosen for the position.
“He (Herbster) would be the best one for the job.” Mike Brandenburg, member of Trump’s agricultural advisory committee
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"He would be the best one for the job," said Brandenburg who confirmed that Trump did, indeed, commit to hiring from the private sector whenever possible.
While he doesn't have an issue with his Senator, Brandenburg said it would be problematic for Heidi Heitkamp, a Democrat, to serve as the secretary of agriculture.
"It wouldn't be draining the swamp, it would just be making it deeper," he said, referring to Trump's campaign slogan, "drain the swamp."
A Democrat ag secretary would not bring about needed changes to the industry, and would find insurmountable challenges in working with Republican undersecretaries, he said.
Brandenburg said that Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is pushing for Heitkamp's appointment as ag secretary because it would remove her from her senate seat. "It's politics at it's worst. Agriculture doesn't need to be the trading pawn here. It's disgraceful," said Brandenburg.
The agricultural advisory committee will continue to meet and offer suggestions regarding agriculture to President Trump throughout his time in office, said Brandenburg. After the secretary is appointed, he expects the committee to discuss a number of ag policies at length including trade, marketing and the farm bill.
South Dakota's governor Dennis Daugaard was asked to step down from the panel after asking Trump to withdraw from the race, following the release of recordings of Trump making lewd comments about women, reported the Argus Leader.
–The Hagstrom Report and staff reporting