READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, January 5th

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, January 5th

Agriculture Growing Weary of Ag Secretary Search

As President-elect Donald Trump thins his list of major nominations to make before he takes office later this month, the agriculture industry is getting restless while waiting for his pick to lead the Department of Agriculture. There’s been a flurry of meetings and rumors since his election in November, but the industry continues to wait. A nomination was expected this week and was thought to be former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue, but that gave way to former California Lieutenant Governor Abel Maldonado (Mal-do-nah-do). The Trump transition team Wednesday said Trump continues to meet with highly qualified candidates. Former USDA Secretary John Block perhaps said it best, saying: “It’s very risky to think you know anything, because you don’t,” according to Politico. Meanwhile, Jerry Hagstrom of the Hagstrom Report wrote in the National Journal this week that “damage has already been done,” citing a lobbyist who said “ag is going to start saying that Trump doesn’t care about us.” It is believed this is the longest wait for a USDA Secretary nomination by an incoming president since Henry Wallace, who was nominated by Franklin D. Roosevelt in March of 1933, according to a U.S. Senate historical book. While the nomination cannot come until after Trump is sworn in, most President-elect’s have announced who the nominee will be well before Inauguration Day.


Vilsack Expected to Become U.S. Dairy Export Council President

Outgoing Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is expected to become the next president and CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council when he leaves office later this month. Vilsack has not confirmed the plans, but a source familiar with the intentions told Agri-Pulse Vilsack will take the place of Tom Suber, who retired at the end of the year from the Council. The U.S. Dairy Export Council is funded by checkoff revenue to track and promote U.S. dairy products. Vilsack says that until he leaves his post at USDA, he is focused on his current job with “several items to get across the finish line.” He says he has nothing currently to say about “life after the administration.” Vilsack has publicly spoken previously, however, regarding his interest in working in farm policy once he leaves USDA.

Midwest Senators to Meet with EPA Administrator Nominee on Biofuels

Midwest Senators representing ethanol producing states will meet with Scott Pruitt Thursday to discuss biofuels in the Trump administration. President-elect Donald Trump recently nominated Pruitt to become his Environmental Protection Agency administrator. Ethanol proponents have voiced some concern that Pruitt may not be supportive of biofuels. Pruitt currently serves as the attorney general for Oklahoma, one of the nation’s biggest oil, natural gas and grain producing states. In 2014, the New York Times reported he and other Republican attorneys general had formed an “unprecedented, secretive alliance” with the energy industry.  However, Trump’s pick for ambassador to China, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, recently said Pruitt would be supportive of biofuels. Republican Senator Chuck Grassley will host the meeting in his office. Senate members joining the meeting include Missouri Republican Roy Blunt, South Dakota Republicans John Thune and Mike Rounds, Iowa Republican Joni Ernst, Kansas Republican Pat Roberts and Nebraska Republican Deb Fisher.


Farm Bureau Endorses Trump EPA Nominee

The American Farm Bureau Federation Wednesday said the organization “strongly endorses” the nomination of Scott Pruitt as Environmental Protection Agency administrator. President-elect Donald Trump nominated Pruitt to lead the EPA in his administration. AFBF President Zippy Duvall calls Pruitt an “ideal nominee.” In a letter to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Chairman Duvall cited Pruitt’s contesting of the EPA’s Waters of the U.S. rule, also opposed by many farm groups. Duvall says Farm Bureau’s support for Pruitt is based on the nominee’s “respect for the law” and his understanding of the need for an agency to “live within the statutory programs Congress has authorized.”

CTFC Chairman Massad Resigns

Chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Timothy Massad, announced he will step down when President-elect Donald Trump takes office later this month. Massad has served as CTFC Chairman since June of 2014. Massad could have stayed at the post until April of this year. In a statement marking the announcement, Massad said: “I am grateful to have had the opportunity.” House Agriculture Committee Chairman Michael Conaway, a Texas Republican, thanked Massad in a statement Wednesday. Conaway said: “Tim has given agricultural producers and processors a seat at the table and offered them meaningful input in the rulemaking processes.” The Wall Street Journal Reports Christopher Giancarlo (John-car lo), the CFTC’s sole Republican member, is expected to succeed Massad, at least on an interim basis. Giancarlo is also under consideration to fill the top CFTC role on a permanent basis, according to those close to the Trump transition team.


ChemChina-Syngenta Deal Delayed

ChemChina and Syngenta were issued an extension by European Union antitrust regulators to comply with the regulator’s request. The EU has extended the deadline for a decision on ChemChina’s proposed buy of Swiss group Syngenta by ten working days to April 12th, according to Reuters. Syngenta said in a statement the two companies had asked for the extension to allow “sufficient time for the discussion of remedy proposals”. The European Commission opened the investigation into state-owned ChemChina’s $43 billion bid in October, saying the companies had not alleviated concerns over the deal. Syngenta said in a statement the two companies remain “fully committed” to the transaction and are “confident of its closure.”

SOURCE: NAFB News Service