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Two new names have popped up recently, is the Trump administration close?

December 29, 2016

1 Min Read
SEC. OF AG CANDIDATE: Abel Moldonado, a vineyard owner and former Lt. Gov. of California is the latest name to surface in the hunt for a new Secretary of Agriculture.Max Whittaker/Getty Images

The Trump Administration has been moving quickly to fill cabinet positions. Farmers and ranchers across the country figured that Secretary of Agriculture would be filled relatively quickly. An early slate of candidates' names that popped up in early November was filled with familiar farm-knowledgeable names.

Yet the choice has not been made and the list of candidates keeps changing. North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp's name surfaced recently. She's a moderate democrat in her home state, and if she's appointed it's a good chance the North Dakota governor would appoint a Republican to fill her seat.

A range of sources now say that the Heitkamp name was floated, but isn't going to happen.

The two most recent names - those that popped up since Christmas - include Dr. Elsa Murano, the former president of Texas A&M and a former Agriculture undersecretary for food safety. She knows the department.

Murano is one of the few to head that food safety division at USDA, a position that's currently vacant. She has a post-Bush Administration history of academic involvement with work at Texas A&M.

The second, and latest, name to surface is former California Lt. Governor Abel Moldonado. The latino businessman is a Santa Barbara County farmer whose parents were Mexican farm immigrants, according to the Los Angeles Times. He is owner of Runway Vineyards in the Santa Maria Valley.

This is no small appointment. The head of USDA has big shoes to fill with Secretary Tom Vilsack occupying the job for 8 years. This is a big department with nearly 100,000 staffers, and a considerable role in providing food security to the country.

It's still wait-and-see time for the position, but these two new names may offer some insight into who will be the next Secretary of Agriculture.

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