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Ag Panel Clears Two USDA Nominees for Senate Vote
The Senate could vote as early as this week to confirm Steven Censky (shown right) as deputy agriculture secretary and Ted McKinney as undersecretary for trade. They are the first Trump nominees for USDA to be cleared for a floor vote by the Senate Agriculture Committee since March 30, when the nomination of Secretary Sonny Perdue was advanced to the floor.
“We will continue to work together to get Secretary Perdue a qualified, functioning team at USDA,” said Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts and senior Democrat Debbie Stabenow in a statement following the unanimous vote. “Our farmers and ranchers are counting on us.” The committee said there is bipartisan support in the Senate for the nominees.
The panel is to hear testimony from two more USDA nominees, Bill Northey for undersecretary for farm production and conservation and Gregory Ibach for undersecretary for marketing and regulation. Two other nominees, Sam Clovis for undersecretary for research and Stephen Vaden for general counsel, are yet to be scheduled for a confirmation hearing.
The White House has been slow in nominating the senior policymakers who work directly with Perdue, who got the latest start to his tenure of any agriculture secretary in history. The administration has yet to make nominations for the undersecretaries in charge of food safety, public nutrition, and the national forests.
A former USDA trade official, Censky comes to USDA from years of work as chief executive of the American Soybean Association. McKinney, a former agribusiness executive, was Indiana agriculture director when he was nominated.